Byron Burger Hits the Employment Spotlight – For All the Wrong Reasons

8th August 2016
Beef Burger

Byron Burger has been under intense scrutiny since a reported “health and safety meeting” resulted in an appearance by the home office and subsequent questioning of Byron employees believed to be working in the UK illegally.

A Nationwide Reaction

The topic of immigration is a sensitive one at best given the current economic climate, changes in government and the decision to leave the EU. It’s no surprise then, that the actions of the home office and the restaurant chain have hit a nerve among the general public.

From an employment standpoint, Byron Burger’s and the home office’s arguments are broadly that:
• People are working with illegal and counterfit documentation, and thus in breach of employment regulation
• Legal migrants must be ensured jobs, and thus businesses employing people illegally need to suffer penalties to make sure jobs are in plenty for those legally allowed to fill them
• Byron was fulfilling it’s legal requirement – and could have been fined £20,000 for every illegal migrant working for it otherwise

Of course, the flip side of this is that:
• Luring employees under false pretence of course has huge ethical implications – in fact a campaign group has emerged called “SHAME on BYRON”
• Contractual obligations need to be balanced with brand management and reputation – both of which will likely have been tarnished by the scandal
• The company betrayed employees that have showed loyalty
• The company should instead have helped employees get proper documentation
• Instead of focusing on employment, scrutiny should fall to Byron’s tax practices (rather forceful argument from a story in The Guardian)

In short, it’s been a blood bath!

Other Views

The reports from other news outlets are predominantly scathing. The Guardian labelled it entrapment, saying “Byron: a company that milks the labour of migrant workers for profit, entraps them and helps to have them kicked out of the country.” Whilst The Evening Standard reports: “Byron has had cockroaches and locusts dumped in one branch by activists. Law-abiding Londoners are horrified by what they think has happened, and have found themselves vowing never to eat at the chain again, as well as supporting workers who have no grounds to be cooking there.

In agreement with the restaurant chain’s actions though is iNews with a story by a barrister stating: “Here’s an unpopular opinion: I don’t see what Byron is supposed to have done wrong.”.

What We Think

It’s horrible what has happened to these workers – and the public has reacted. There are arguments for both sides, but there’s no denying that luring employees under false pretences is wrong.

"The company should instead have helped employees get proper documentation"