Pub bosses warn they are facing shortfall of 188,000 staff

Pub and restaurant bosses warn they are facing shortfall of 188,000 staff when hospitality venues fully reopen on June 21

  • Jobs lost in hospitality account for 43% of the national total during coronavirus  
  • Some have gone to get better-paid jobs at agencies and others have gone home 
  • Trade body has also called for an ‘Australian-style’ visa systems 

Pub and restaurant bosses have warned they are facing a staggering shortfall of 188,000 workers when hospitality venues fully reopen on June 21.   

Jobs lost in hospitality account for 43 per cent of the national total during the coronavirus crisis, with many staff who have lost their employment moving into retail – and others heading back to their home countries in Europe.

Some restaurant bosses told MailOnline that furloughed staff had left to get a better-paid job at an agency, while another said he had not had a single response to an advert for a bar worker on a salary of £22,000 a year.

Those trying for a job in hospitality said they were grateful for the ‘abundance’ of jobs available at the moment, but bosses have ‘concern’ about the exodus of Eastern European workers following the pandemic and post-Brexit.

Jobs lost in hospitality account for 43 per cent of the national total during the coronavirus crisis, with many staff who have lost their employment moving into retail – and others heading back to their home countries in Europe

Those trying for a job in hospitality said they were grateful for the ‘abundance’ of jobs available at the moment, but bosses have ‘concern’ about the exodus of Eastern European workers following the pandemic and post-Brexit

Among the chains facing a big recruitment effort is Pizza Express which is trying to hire 1,000 staff to join its 360 sites across the UK before indoor hospitality returns on May 17, having spent much of the past year closed.

Hospitality workers have returned to Poland after  businesses went bust

Damian Wawrzyniak, who owns the House of Feasts restaurant, a bakery, street food kiosk and retail shop in Peterborough, 

Mr Wawrzyniak told MailOnline: ‘Recruitment is a massive issue, but it’s not from today, not because of Brexit, it’s an ongoing problem.

‘The biggest problem why people don’t want to work in hospitality is because it’s not treated like a profession. If it was then people would like to work.

‘I had a lady who quit just before the pandemic kicked off and then now she wants to come back to me. She was a chef, then she went to work in an NHS testing centre, and now because the testing centre is closing she wants to come back into hospitality.’

Mr Wawrzyniak, who is from Poland, said some of his employees left to go to Poland during the pandemic but they are already back, adding: ‘Hospitality is in much worse shape in Poland than in the UK.’

He said: ‘If the place is bankrupt in England where they used to work, maybe they went back, but we didn’t and are operating. Mainly the people who left to Poland used to work in businesses that went bankrupt.’

Mr Wawrzyniak said his business was expanding – and he had gone from eight staff before the Covid-19 crisis to 27 now, but added: ‘I’m struggling to fill up my posts currently. Bar staff is a problem and waiting staff is a problem. My kitchen is fully staffed at the moment.’

Asked about waiters from Eastern Europe who have moved back to their home countries during the pandemic, he added: ‘Yes that’s the problem as well – we have all nationalities, English, you name it, Polish.

‘But obviously lots of people switched their profession during the pandemic. Some got training and went to work in retail, basically they took their future in their own hands.’

He admitted he was ‘worried’ about the recruitment situation, but added: ‘Obviously I’m positive as well. We need to get it done. I’m not going to (stop) expanding because I cannot find staff. Maybe expansion will take a bit longer.’

Wages are on the rise with businesses telling of their struggle to find bar staff despite offering higher rates – and waiters commanding £15 an hour in South East England, equating to nearly £30,000 a year if full-time.

Many workers from Eastern Europe are said to have gone back to their home country before the third Covid-19 lockdown with no reason to return to Britain because much of the hospitality industry has remained closed since.

And one in five companies with furloughed staff now say they are unlikely to keep all of them on, according to a YouGov study released last week. The UK Government estimates 4.9million workers were furloughed in February.   

Matthew Holland , who co-owns Willmore’s 1938 in Penarth, South Wales, with his partner Charlotte Court, told MailOnline yesterday: ‘Right through furlough we kept a member of staff in full time employment, he was almost doing his hours but was on flexi furlough.

‘He’s been offered a job now with an agency where the pay is considerably more. He can get an extra £5 or £6 an hour at the agency. We made his salary up to the maximum during lockdown so we’re a bit frustrated.’ 

Hospitality businesses, which includes hotels, bars and anywhere which serves food and drink are looking at a massive vacancy list from waiters to chefs with 85 per cent of venues currently reporting staff shortages.

The list of unfilled positions also includes housekeepers and bar staff said trade body UKHospitality but they are calling on the government not to abandon or downgrade the plans to reopen all businesses later this month because of the boost it gives to struggling firms.

It has also called for an ‘Australian-style’ visa systems to raise the threshold and allow more overseas workers to come here and fill the vacancies, reported the online journal Big Hospitality.

Bosses are worried that many will not take up jobs because they do not see it as stable employment until there is more certainty that lockdown will fully end on the 21st.

UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said: ‘The government must restore confidence in the sector so that it is again seen as a stable employer and provider of fulfilling careers.

‘To facilitate this, it must stick to the re-opening roadmap, lifting all restrictions from June 21st. This will restore consumer confidence and give a strong signal to workers that hospitality will bounce back strongly.’

She added: ‘Beyond this, the single biggest act of support that Government could give would be to encourage mor UK-based workers to join the hospitality sector.

‘It is also time for the Government to review its list of shortage occupations and consider the introduction of an Australian-style visa scheme to enable the workers we need, who don’t meet the point-based system, to come and work here.’

Many of those overseas workers left when lockdown was introduced but, with travel restrictions and uncertainty, are not able or willing to return.

In the first quarter of this year 34.9 per cent of new employees in hospitality were from the EU compared to 48.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 before the pandemic.

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