PizzaExpress is facing anger from staff over changes to the way shifts are handled, with fears they could lose hours a week in pay. 

The Guardian reports PizzaExpress told employees the changes to ‘minimum staffing’ rules were intended to ensure the company “hits budget”.

“We are resetting how we use our labour system to ensure we always have the right people, in the right place at the right time to hit our budget,” the company said.

The change was reportedly announced last week and is to be implemented this week. It could mean a reduction in pay for as many as 400 hourly paid waiting staff in up to 90 of the group’s 360 restaurants, according to The Guardian. 

The cut to waiting staff’s hours will be before 5pm, with the additional workload handed to salaried managers, who will receive no extra pay.

The Unite union, which represents some of PizzaExpress’ 10,000 workers, said waiting staff could lose up to five hours of work per day – a cut of £260 per week without tips for those over 23 years old, on minimum wage, and working five days a week.

CEO Paula MacKenzie reportedly held an emergency meeting with Unite’s hospitality division’s lead organiser, Bryan Simpson, and managers on 17 May as a result of the backlash.

Last year, PizzaExpress granted waiting staff a bigger share of tips and service charges following protests as their share was cut from 70% to 50%. The cut was implemented in 2021, when pay was under pressure due to social distancing measures.

A Pizza Express spokesperson said: “Customer habits are always changing, and we have to adapt to that. As part of this we’re tweaking our operational system, so we always have the right number of team members in our restaurants to serve the number of customers dining.

“Across less than a quarter of our restaurants, we are tweaking the shift patterns of a very small number of our team-members on the early-week daytime shift. We will work with our team members to find other shifts, pick up hours at nearby restaurants or for those with fixed patterns, honour their current hours if they’re unable to change these.

“Alongside offering the very best dining experience for our loyal customers, our key focus is ensuring we’re doing right by our nearly 10,000 strong team.”