Restaurant chain Java House has offered staff the chance to resign in a voluntary exit program as the company began the process of laying off workers.
A memo sent to employees informed them of the staff rationalization program, and gave eligible employees the chance to resign by Friday, November 27.
Citing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Java noted that it had been experiencing reduced foot traffic at its establishments. and predicted that demand would remain low even with various restrictions eased.
According to Java, the voluntary separation program is designed to enable workers to chart their own way forward during a pandemic.
To be eligible for the program, however, workers must meet certain requirements. It will only be available to branch employees who have completed four years of service, commissary staff who have completed three years and support and operations staff who have been with Java House for more than one and a half years.
Eligible workers who take the voluntary exit route will receive 15 days’ pay for every complete year worked, an additional one and half months’ pay and compensation for unutilized leave days.
The chain had already slashed employee compensation by up to 40 per cent in April, at onset of the pandemic in Kenya, as government restrictions hit business hard.
At the time, eating out was banned as part of Ministry of Health regulations, with only take-away operations permitted.
Despite the restrictions since being eased, however, Java noted that demand remained low compared to previous years.
“During the last few months we have looked at every aspect of cost reduction in the business, including re-negotiating rents, our procurement of raw material, our labour schedules, our utility costs etc. and these are now moving towards a very low level in line with expected sales,
“Unfortunately the business is potentially over resourced at the current level of performance. Hence Java has had to make a difficult decision to offer the Program to provide our staff the opportunity to receive a lump sum financial payment from the company allowing them to create options for themselves following the prolonged effects of C-19. It is also a way in which we can offer an alternative to those unable to work or on rotation to allow them pursue other interests,” the company noted in its memo to employees.
Founded in 1999, Java House boasts over 70 outlets across Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. It is also behind the 360 Degrees Pizza and Planet Yoghurt brands.