WETHERSPOONS boss Tim Martin said staff may face delays in being paid during the coronavirus pandemic and advised them to get a job at Tesco.

The pub chain employs roughly 40,000 people across the UK, and currently owns The Forum pub in Hexham.

The chain has been forced to shut all its pubs after the Prime Minister ordered the closure of non-essential shops, restaurants and public houses in a bid to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

In a video to staff, Mr Martin said: "The Government has promised to pay about 80 per cent of wages. They’ll probably be pretty slow about paying it, so there may be some delays for which I also apologise, but I feel sure they are going to come through on their promise."

He went on to advise staff to look for jobs in the supermarket sector, because food stores will remain open during the crisis.

He said: "We have had lots of calls from supermarkets, Tesco alone want 20,000 people to join them. That’s half the number of people who work in our pubs.

"If I’m honest, I say you can get the furlough payments and stay at home.

"If you’re offered a job at a supermarket, many of you will want to do that. If you think it’s a good idea, do it.

"I can completely understand it. If you’ve worked for us before I promise you we will give you first preference if you want to come back."

In response, Wetherspoons workers and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union have demanded for a full pay for all workers.

A statement read: "Whilst other companies such as Costa have promised their staff eight weeks fully paid, Wetherspoons have left over 40,000 people without their next pay date.

"With no means of paying for rent, bills or food, and no warning.

"Employees have been stripped of bonuses we had already achieved, and with no confirmation as to how the 80 per cent of pay from the Government will be calculated.

"It is clear that Wetherspoons hold no regard for the financial and mental wellbeing of their employees."