Wagamama faced calls for a boycott after Twitter and Facebook users circulated a photograph of a rota with a highlighted panel telling staff that they would face disciplinary action if they called in sick over the festive period.
It added that employees would have to arrange for other staff members to cover their shift if they were unwell.
“No calling in sick! May I remind you that if you are unable to come for your shift it is your responsibility to find somebody to cover your shift (as per contact and handbook),” it said.
Wagamama said the notice, which was snapped in a North Finchley restaurant, “was an isolated incident and is strictly not company employment policy”.
The photo was originally posted on Facebook by Fair Hospitality, a union representing workers in the catering and hospitality industry, after being sent by a member.
“It may be a shocking example but it’s sadly quite normal across the industry – particularly at this time of year,” the union said. “This is why we need to come together in a union to stop such exploitation.”
The image provoked outrage online, with early posts of the photograph receiving thousands of retweets as customers pledged to boycott the chain.
Some commentators demanded the manager be sacked but others said the blame was broader.
Responding to an ultimatum to fire the manager, Fair Hospitality tweeted that the “the problem is a systematic one” and said their aim was to get the chain to “improve conditions”.
the manager involved feared team member shortages over the festive period and regrettably decided to take this highly unusual approach. as a company we treat all our team with the greatest respect and understand and appreciate the hard work they all do. (2/3)
— wagamama uk (@wagamama_uk) 24 December 2017
Wagamama has insisted that the incident was isolated and caused by an individual staff member.
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In a series of tweets following the incident the reataurant said: “The manager involved feared team member shortages over the festive period and regrettably decided to take this highly unusual approach.
“As a company we treat all our team with the greatest respect and understand and appreciate the hard work they all do.”