Proportion of EU workers in hospitality at lowest level in years

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Proportion of EU workers in hospitality at lowest level in years

Related tags brexit Staff

The proportion of hospitality workers from the EU is at its lowest level since at least 2016, according to the latest figures from Fourth.

The data, aggregated from the analysis of more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and QSR sectors, reveals that while the number of EU workers in the sector has dropped, the proportion of British workers in hospitality has risen substantially over the past two and a half years. 

The proportion of EU workers has been consistently declining​ since the UK formally left the European Union in January 2020, which was closely followed by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic just two months later.

EU workers made up 37% of the hospitality workforce in June 2021, compared to 43% in June 2019; while British workers made up 51% of the workforce in June 2021, compared to 46% in June 2019.

The total sector headcount this month is still down 13% compared to July 2020, and down 23% compared to July 2019. Meanwhile, the total headcount for Q2 2021 (April, May and June) was down 25% compared to Q2 2020.

According to Fourth’s data, 45% of payroll staff remain on full or flexi-furlough, the smallest proportion of workers since the scheme was introduced.

In June, British workers accounted for 32% of back-of-house roles and 55% of front-of-house roles, the highest proportion seen since Fourth started recording this data.

Conversely, workers from EU nations recorded the lowest proportional figures on record in the month, accounting for 52% of back-of-house roles and 36% of front-of-house roles.

This does show that the majority of back-of-house jobs, such as chefs and kitchen porters, are still held by EU workers, but that number is decreasing.

“A potent combination of Britain’s departure from the EU and the devastating impact of the pandemic continues to significantly shake up the sector’s labour market," says Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth.

"The much-publicisedstaffing crisis​ is proving hugely challenging for operators, as a consequence of a clear shrinking of the labour pool, in back-of-house roles in particular. It remains unclear how long this disruption might last and how it will be resolved in the months ahead during the long road to recovery.

“It will be interesting to see how trading models which evolved during the pandemic, such as reliance on table service, digital ordering and development of new sales channels, will impact labour scheduling and the workforce in the future.

"Now that restrictions have been lifted in England and consumers can order from the bar once more, operators will need to find solutions that allow them to provide a great guest experience in tandem with maximising efficiency.”

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