Staff paid thousands of dollars after Darlington’s Chinese buffet closed


THE OWNER of a Chinese buffet restaurant has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds to former employees who only worked one shift.

Shawn Carr and Sinatta Ramsay were employed to work at the Darlington site last July when it reopened after the coronavirus lockdown.

However, the pair failed to complete their first shift after the site closed in the middle of its reopening day, with workers unable to figure out why.

The couple have since received payments from manager Peter Wu after an employment tribunal found they had “enduring unauthorized wage deduction”.

Mr Carr and Miss Ramsay were employed respectively as assistant manager and supervisor at 108 (Darlington) Limited T/A The Chinese Buffet before the restaurant reopened on July 5, 2021.

Employees received “a short period of training” before reporting for the first shift at the Feethams site between 11am and 12pm for the midday shift, which was due to last until around 3pm.

However, the shift did not go as planned and was cut short halfway through. An employment report read: “During this noon shift, engineers from the gas board arrived and carried out inspections and the result was that they determined that there was an irregularity in this regarding the electricity meter and they informed the owner.

“It was conveyed to the staff, that the power was going to be disconnected but was pushed back at the time all the customers had left and so it happened around 3:00 p.m. There was no certainty as to when the situation would be regularized and the restaurant did not open for the evening shift that day and indeed, as we have now noted, did not reopen.

The tribunal, held in January, heard that staff had expressed concerns about lack of work and pay. Hopes that the restaurant could reopen soon fell flat and Mr Wu began to receive payment requests from staff.

He paid Mr Carr £600 out of his own pocket while paying £150 to other staff, according to the court report. Mr Wu was praised for this, with the report adding: “It demonstrates some awareness on Mr Wu’s part of the existence of a system whereby employees can receive compensation if they are in fact terminated. “.

But after no word on when the situation would change, Miss Ramsay and Mr Carr gave notice to terminate their jobs by email in September.

Read more: Darlington takeout owner fined for food hygiene violations

They then took those claims to court claiming in Mr Carr’s case £4,355.66 for unpaid wages and in Miss Ramsay’s case £3,009.96.

“The case put forward by the two claimants is that they were not formally dismissed and that they were not specifically informed, or written, in any form, indicating to them that they were legally licensed,” the report sums up.

They argued that they “remained employed” and “were always ready and willing to work” and therefore should have received payment of the wages owed to them in their contracts. But Mr Wu said he paid more than was legally required and was paid because “he felt obliged in the interest of both claimants to pay them money” because of their financial difficulties highlighted.

Labor judge Barry Speker ruled: “There was not just a shortage of work, there was a complete absence of work and the claimants, although ready and willing to work, were not required to do so. .”

“I have expressed some sympathy to everyone involved in what is clearly an unfortunate situation where everyone expected a reopened restaurant to trade profitably and provide applicants with additional employment which they all have the two said they enjoyed the restaurant and for Mr. Wu, and his co-manager, a profitable business.

“Unfortunately, for the circumstances described, this was not the case.”

Shawn Carr received £1,531.26 while Sinatta Ramsay received £1,406.25.

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