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30th April 2021

Reduction of EU workers puts squeeze on hospitality operators

Written by: Edward Waddell
The latest figures from global software provider Fourth shows there has been a ‘significant reduction’ in EU nationals working in the hospitality sector, with the roles instead being filled by British and workers from the rest of the world (ROW).

Fourth’s latest data has been aggregated from analysis of more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and QSR sectors.

The data revealed that EU workers made up just 39.4% of the hospitality workforce in Q1 of 2021, compared to 43.4% in Q1 of 2019. The overall workforce headcount is still down 28% compared to April 2020.

The percentage of British and ROW workers has ‘grown considerably’ since 2019, with British workers currently making up 48% of the workforce and ROW workers making up 13% compared to 45% and 10% two years ago.

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: “As restrictions ease further and indoor trading returns on 17 May, the necessity to recruit will heighten, placing a greater spotlight on the availability of workers.

“We have been tracking the make-up of the workforce for a number of years, and its reliance on transient workers from European countries has been a prominent feature, particularly in high demand back-of-house roles, such as chefs.

“Clearly, the pandemic, coupled with new immigration systems post-Brexit, have had a significant impact on the make-up and availability of workers from EU countries within our industry, which will become increasingly prominent as we return to full capacity.

“The next few months of trading will be mission critical for our industry, as businesses look to hit the ground running after a tumultuous period and we’ll be standing side-by-side with them to support where we can.”

The Fourth data also found the number of hours worked across the sector was tracking at 72% of the hours worked in July 2020, despite outdoor only trading starting from 12 April.

Staff aged 18-21-years-old made up just 4.1% of all hours worked in March 2021, compared to 10.2% in March 2019 suggesting younger people are working less.