For many years, employers in the hospitality industry have struggled to recruit suitable staff due to a number of reasons (long hours, perception of low pay and generally poor working conditions)*. The impact of Brexit and the pandemic has made the situation even more challenging.
According to the BBC, "Bars and restaurants are struggling to recruit enough staff and some may not be able to fully reopen in May, after thousands of workers left the sector." As a result of Brexit, it has become increasingly important for businesses to consider obtaining a Home Office Sponsor Licence. If granted, the Sponsor Licence allows the employer to recruit non-settled workers (inside and outside the UK). The Home Office had brought in the "new/not so new" Point Based System Skilled Worker visa so that it would be easier for employers recruit and retain skilled workers (compared to the previous Tier 2 visa).
Some of the important changes were:
1. Lower qualifications and skill level (RQF level 3)
2. Lower minimum salary
3. No requirement to conduct the Relevant Labour Market Test
An employer in the hospitality business, may now recruit staff at a managerial level (e.g. chefs, bar/restaurant managers, café managers and hotel managers), with less stringent requirements to meet. Unfortunately, for jobs such as kitchen assistants and waiters, sponsorship is not an option because the skill level is too low. This means that these roles have to be filled by:
1. British or Irish nationals; or
2. EU nationals who have the right to work under the EUSS scheme (sponsorship is not required); or
3. Foreign nationals who are settled in the UK or have an alternative basis of residence; or
4. Foreign students (up to 20 hours per week only)
From 1 July 2021, the Graduate route will be open which may allow newly graduated students an opportunity to work in the service industry.
In the current times, it makes commercial sense to seriously consider the benefits of having a Home Office Sponsor Licence when it comes to recruiting and retaining a skilled work force.
*The Caterer: Overwhelming majority of hospitality employers find recruiting harder than ever: 21.10.2016 by Neil Gerrard: https://www.thecaterer.com/news/foodservice/overwhelming-majority-of-hospitality-employers-find-recruiting-harder-than-ever