An end to freedom of movement would be “catastrophic” for the UK hospitality industry

27 Sep 2017

The UK hospitality industry would need to recruit an additional 60,000 workers if a hard Brexit means an end to EU freedom of movement.

According to a report commissioned by the hospitality association HOSPA, 75 per cent of waiters, 25 per cent of chefs and 37 per cent of housekeepers in the UK are EU nationals, with the British Hospitality Association (BHA) claiming it will take 10 years to train up enough British workers to fill this gap, adding that some businesses would fail in the meantime, "taking UK jobs with them".

Commenting on the findings and speaking ahead of the HOSPACE2017 Conference and Exhibition taking place on 2 November in London, John Guthrie, Employment Policy Advisor at the BHA, says: "At a time of very low unemployment and a declining number of new entrants to the labour market, this is unrealistic. We have been campaigning for a post-Brexit immigration system that continues to allow for the recruitment of service workers, while building in a gradual year-by-year increase in the recruitment of UK workers as we promote the sector as a career of choice."

Mr Guthrie adds that: “The BHA has spearheaded the industry’s efforts to persuade the government that a ‘cliff-edge’ scenario – where ‘freedom of movement’ ends and no successor system put in its place – would be catastrophic for Britain’s hospitality industry."

Freedom of movement is one of the most controversial issues to be settled during the Brexit negotiations, yet a document from the Home Office leaked earlier this month, revealed draft plans to end freedom of movement immediately after Brexit. It also included proposals to offer low-skilled EU migrants two-year work permits, with high-skilled workers receiving visas for three to five years.

Commenting on the leaked plans, Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the BHA, says: “If these proposals are implemented it could be catastrophic for the UK hospitality industry and for those who enjoy the hospitality it brings – whether it be in restaurants, theatres, hotels, bars and tourist attractions.

"The Government need to be urgently reminded that so-called unskilled workers in hospitality – the ambassadors for our country – are necessary."

With all the concerns surrounding the Brexit negotiations, now is the time for businesses in the hospitality industry to focus on how best to improve performance and prepare for what may come.

Gain a competitive advantage by listening to customer wishes, improving service levels and implementing innovative strategies to attract new customers and encourage repeat business.

The hospitality sector also offers good enterprise opportunities to entrepreneurs, with low barriers to entry. But those with a considered business plan and a sector specialist to advise them are more likely to reap the rewards of increased sales and turnover.

At Beavis Morgan, we have extensive experience of working with clients in the hospitality sector and our professionals are acknowledged experts in issues affecting organisations operating in this area.  If you have a business idea or would like to discuss how we can help you improve business performance, contact Matthew Burge or your usual Beavis Morgan Partner.