Where have thousands of the hospitality workers gone?
Many venues in Cumbria are facing staffing problems as we enter the summer season.
Over the last few weeks, we have heard how a lack of hospitality workers is affecting businesses in the Lake District – and it is not only an issue in the Lakes, but other regions are also suffering. Kitchen staff especially seem to be in a huge supply deficit, to the extent that some pubs are being forced to temporarily close.
Before the pandemic, 24% of hospitality workers across the UK were foreign, with this percentage rising dizzyingly close to 60% in London. The link between staff shortages is undoubtedly a tragic combination of the consequences of Covid-19 AND Brexit restrictions for foreigners wishing to work in the UK.
So, what are the new rules for EU workers coming to UK?
From 30th June 2021, a new points-based system will be introduced to new possible candidates who want to work in the UK. The points-based immigration system does not apply to EU citizens who were already living in the UK on the 31st December 2020. They and their family members are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, whereby they have until 30th June 2021 to complete an application.
In light of this, many EU workers have returned to their home countries. Many more elected to return when it looked the first hint of national lockdowns threatened in the first quarter of 2020, which doubtless left a considerable number of European nationals unable to return to the UK to work – now incapable of meeting the new requirements to reenter the country.
Despite this difficult time for hospitality, the Government has said pub and restaurant owners should focus on Britain’s domestic workforce to fill positions. In addition, the Government has rejected calls for a coronavirus recovery visa to help combat the hospitality staffing crisis, with officials branding the idea “inappropriate” whilst thousands of residents remain on furlough.
What lies ahead for the hospitality industry?
As a staffing agency, we can see the knock-on effects these restrictions are having within the hospitality industry within one of the UK’s most attractive domestic tourism destinations. Many businesses are simply unable to operate at anything like their full capacity, albeit not for lack of holidaymakers.
Hospitality staff are consequently finding themselves working longer hours, under more intense pressure, than they are accustomed to, in order to meet the demands of the booming staycation market. One unforeseen consequence of the staff shortages within hospitality is that many of those who remain in roles within the industry are now looking to leave and find work in sectors that are considered safer, lest we lockdown again.
In light of this crisis, many organisations are advocating for kindness and patience from members of the public, as many hospitality workers are reporting increased hostility from frustrated customers.
Do you think the government will ease the restrictions in the near future? We are joining thousands of other employers, in a bid to lobby the Government, as we believe that a temporary relaxation of the criteria would encourage a considerable number of EU nationals who were previously living and working within the hospitality sector to return.