Pub staff say pension payments disappeared

Tipsy, on Kirkcaldy High Street.
Tipsy, on Kirkcaldy High Street.
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The owners of two Kirkcaldy pubs which have come under fire for allegedly not paying staff have hit back, after former employees raised concerns over pay and pensions.

Former staff members of Tipsy, Society, and the Drummond Hotel in Glenrothes – which has since been sold to a new owner – have said that while working for Bryan Reid and Hamish Waterson they regularly endured late pay and found pension payments hadn’t been made, despite their payslips showing the money had come off.

“I was preparing to open my bar, when approached by two men. These men told me that I wasn’t allowed to open the building and that no one was to get in.”

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Mr Reid and Mr Waterson have released a statement to the Press in response to the claims, which concedes that there have been cash flow issues which led to late wages, and that they have arranged to repay a debt to the Nest pension scheme – the agency setup by the government which employees are automatically enrolled in.

How did the row start?

One former employee, Gregg Robb, shared a post on social media last week which alleged that while working for Mr Waterson and Mr Reid, employees had endured late pay, and that pension payments had been taken from their wages but appeared not to have been made to their Nest pension accounts.

He told the Press “It’s been going on for two or three years. To start with, we weren’t being paid on time, it was late and we were getting it in dribs and drabs, we were getting excuses.

“I was getting emails from Nest, the pension scheme, so it turned out they hadn’t been paying that. I spoke to the staff that I work with and some of the staff that still work for them, they haven’t been paying it. I haven’t had a payment to Nest from May last year, but it’s been taken off my wages.”

“There was maybe one month out of six that you got paid on time.”

Was it just one employee who had these problems?

No, the Press has been in touch with a number of former employees who have similar claims. They relate to people who have worked at Tipsy, Society, and the Drummond Hotel in Glenrothes, which was sold earlier this year to new owners.

Jodiee Clark is a chef at the Drummond Hotel, she says that under the ownership of Mr Reid and Mr Waterson, wages were often late, or inaccurate, and pension payments hadn’t been made.

“The new owners only took over three months ago.

“We were never paid on time. The whole time I worked under them, more or less a year, I was paid once on the correct date and corretly. Every other time we were paid late. We were sometimes paid half a wage, and had to wait a week for the other half. I started in June last year, they enrolled me into the pension scheme in September, and have paid nothing into it since them. They’ve never paid a penny into it but they’ve still taken the money from everybody’s wages.

“I’ve been on to Nest for the past year, all they can tell me is that they’re passing the information on. It’s been an ongoing battle. We’ve been asking

“With the new owners, everything’s set up, everything’s perfect.”

Liam Burgess is also one of those to have pay issues.

He said: “My employment with the company was short lived, only five months. Albeit a long five months. I was under employment as general manager at the Tipsy.

“My first payment issues came with my first salary payment - the issue was being underpaid my initial agreed salary.

“I’m currently still awaiting payment on two weeks worth of work and holiday hours, which I am in extremely high doubt about receiving.

“After a former colleague let loose on the matter through social media, I personally contacted Nest. Only to discover they hold no details or account from myself.

“So where has my money went?

“All staff eligible for pension are currently having issues the same, staff have been informed that the problem is being rectified. Although this should’ve been rectified when a member of staff raised this issue many months ago.”

Why did he Leave?

“My reason for leaving the company very abruptly was again a money issue.

“Last Friday I was preparing to open my bar, when approached by two men. These men told me that I wasn’t allowed to open the building and that no one was to get in.

“The men demanded that one of the directors (Hamish) come down and paid them a rather substantial debt that they were due – £30,000.

“Hamish never appeared. Leaving me stuck in the building with these two pretty mean men. An agreement was made over the phone with the men, and they left. Before leaving they made a statement that they would be back with “nastier boys” if the rest of the debt wasn’t settled within their timeframe.

“Frankly I don’t get paid enough to be put in such a vulnerable position and never wish to be again.”

How did the owners respond?

“Regarding Liam Burgess statement that whilst employed at Tipsy, Kirkcaldy, he was placed in an impossible situation when two gentleman arrived on premises chasing a historical debt.

“He was in no way in any danger, to the contrary, this situation was resolved in a three minute telephone call with that particular supplier by a Director.”

And what do they say about the allegations of unpaid pensions?

“Drummonds Hotel ran at a loss and accrued significant debt in its final year of trading. Before we exited from that business some months ago, we kept the business trading to protect the employment of those who worked there and to allow the business to be sold on whilst remaining open and also attractive to any potential new business owner.

“The company that traded the business was left with substantial debts to its creditors.

“The Directors are now clearing this steadily. Nest pensions is one of those creditors. We have a payment schedule in place with Nest to clear this debt over a period of time. This debt MUST be and will be paid and requires to be by law. There has never been any doubting or denying that fact.

“The pensions of previous and current employees are protected, and their pensions will be brought up to date accordingly in time, as agreed. The Pension Regulator is also aware. There is absolutely NO theft of pension funds from any employee.

“All past and present staff have now been written to personally this week outlining exactly what the position is.”

And what do Mr Waterson and Mr Reid say about claims of late pay?

“Regarding the allegation of late wage payments to employees, there were some instances of this during the final year of trading due to a seriously tight cash flow, employees were given plenty notice of this, an apology made and a facility of part payment was offered to all staff affected until full payment was made. The timescales of late payment were no more than 7 days.”