Staffing crisis 'drives up' hospitality wages

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Staffing crisis 'drives up' hospitality wages

Related tags Recruitment Staff Wages Coronavirus brexit

Hiring bottlenecks in the UK’s hospitality sector are increasingly prompting hospitality operators to turn to temporary staff to keep up with demand, with wages increasing by nearly 14%.

According to data from jobs marketplace Indeed Flex, analysis of pub, bar and restaurant shifts reveals that temps willing to work at the weekend could benefit most from the rapidly rising wages.

Average hourly pay for a weekend shift is now up 9% compared to this time in 2019.

Meanwhile weekday pay rates have risen by an average of 5% across the UK, far exceeding the 1.8% rise in the minimum wage between 2019 and 2021.

Pay increases vary around the country, with Greater Manchester and Cheshire experiencing the biggest pay hikes.

Hourly rates for temporary workers in those areas have risen by 11.15% for weekday hospitality staff, and by 13.87% for weekend workers compared to May 2019.

Pay growth has been weakest in Merseyside, where hourly rates increased by just 0.84% on average, and in London, where they notched up by only 3.73%.

Since restrictions began to ease in April, the hospitality sector has found itself gripped by a staffing crisis.

Recent analysis by UKHospitality, which is based on a survey of hundreds of hospitality operators, suggests a current vacancy rate across the sector of 9%; implying a shortage of 188,000 workers​.

The shortage of front-of-house staff and chefs is particularly acute, with 80% of those surveyed reporting vacancies for front-of-house roles, such as waiting and bar staff, and 85% are in need of chefs.

Yesterday (21 June) Pied à Terre became the latest high-profile London restaurant to pause lunch service due to staffing issues.

Moore told BigHospitality​ ​the decision came following the loss of three chefs to a new opening earlier this week.

He said: “It’s far from ideal but there’s nothing we can do about it.

"Our current position is that we need to protect the staff that remain and not try and flog them to death.

"It’s a massive blow financially but it's better to keep a happy and healthy team. We won’t be profitable for the next four weeks, but we will sustain the business and our reputation."

Moore added that he is not at all confident Pied à Terre will be able to recruit the three to four chefs it needs to reopen for lunch, and largely puts the industry’s staffing problems down to Brexit and the pandemic.

“The young people that would have wanted to come to London to get some life experience have not been made to feel welcome," he said.

"We need to make it easy for young Europeans to work here for two to three years. These aren't people getting paid over £30,000 a year that you can sponsor, but they're essential and we need them back."

UKHospitality has called for the introduction of an 'Australian-style visa scheme' to enable overseas workers who do not meet the threshold demanded by the new point-based immigration system to come to the UK.

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