The Impact of Brexit on the Hospitality Industry - 31/03/17 - Mayday Employment

The Impact of Brexit on the Hospitality Industry – 31/03/17

Hospitality industry voices Brexit concerns

On Tuesday afternoon Theresa May officially triggered Article 50 by signing a letter informing the European Council of Britain’s intention to leave the European Union, also known as Brexit. The potential impacts of Brexit  to organisations surrounding the utilisation of European workers in all industry sectors divides opinion across the nation. Immigration is the most controversial issue to be settled during the Brexit negotiations. Whilst not a new development, Brexit is certainly on the minds of those running hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, catering services, and other hospitality businesses across the UK. This is due to the uncertainty it brings, and the question of what the potential impact of Brexit will be on the industry.

My previous experience within the hospitality sector is the drive behind my desire to highlight the implications on EU nationals and their future eligibility to source employment in the UK as a result of Tuesday’s discussions at Number 10. The hospitality sector has warned it faces a shortfall of 60,000 workers a year if immigration from the EU is controlled too tightly following Brexit. As a whole the hospitality industry represents 4.5 million workers which equates to one tenth of the UK’s economic wealth. The British Hospitality Association is adamant that the UK must drastically reduce its dependency on EU workers following the release of statistical demographic analysis in the sector, conducted by Fourth Hospitality. The recent study revealed that 75% of waiting staff, 37% of housekeeping staff and 25% of all chefs are from the EU. Hospitality is the fourth largest industry in the UK and our reputation as ‘The Culinary Capital of the World’ is under serious threat as we are so heavily reliant on foreign restaurant investors.

Brexit impact

How does this impact the future of EU nationals in the hospitality industry?

A staggering statistic reads that only one third of all applications submitted for top chefs positions in London are from Britain, followed by one fifth of all Chef de Partie roles. So how does this impact the future of EU nationals in the industry? The government has proposed a £1000 a year fee for organisations on each EU national they employ following the confirmation of Brexit. The current demographic of EU nationals working within the industry stands at 43%. This is even greater in the restaurant sector, where only 29% of the workforce are British.The financial implications are astronomical and the majority of independent organisations would crumble under the proposed regulations. It is crucial that the government outlines sustainable measures to cope with Brexit during this two year negotiation period. A landslide reduction in tourist visitors to our shores is nervously anticipated with an estimated £4.1 billion pound negative impact on the British tourism industry. The British Hospitality Association have publicly voiced their estimation of ten years as the length of time required to reduce the UK’s dependency on EU workers. The objective is to train British staff, target older workers and encourage young people to join the industry. However a national shortage of experienced professionals in the industry highlights political tension amidst an ever changing market.

The British Hospitality Association has a plan of action

The British Hospitality Association is calling on the government to bolster its newly announced technical qualifications with better promotion within schools of non-academic careers, including hospitality. In the meantime Britain has to have continued access to a low-skilled EU workforce otherwise hospitality businesses face bankruptcy. The UK food industry is scrambling around for staff as the supply of EU workers begins to dwindle. The weakening of the pound and nagging worries among Europeans about their long-term status in the UK have led to many workers choosing not to remain as residents. Replacing critical EU workers within the hospitality industry if their rights are not protected post-Brexit would be a major struggle. Potential workers reportedly feel unwelcome or unwanted and there is plenty of evidence suggesting that recruiting from the Continent has already become more challenging.

Replacement of the workforce, given that unemployment figures are the lowest they have been, will require the industry to reach the economically inactive and long-term unemployed, which will take time. 67,000 new careers for long-term unemployed Brits have already been created by the hospitality industry in the past three years thanks to a scheme launched with the Department for Work and Pensions.

If you are an EU national and you wish to voice your concerns surrounding employment and sourcing your next position in the Banbury area please call our Hospitality and Catering Consultant Gionis Profka on 01295 266 266 or email

Written by
Kristian Fenwick
Business Development Manager