How will Brexit affect the UK’s hotel sector workforce?

10 March 2020

by Matthew Lynch Solicitor & Senior Manager

Email +44 (0)7701 296261

The UK government’s proposals for its post-Brexit immigration system present a number of challenges to a hotel sector that has often relied on EU nationals to fill certain roles.

As recently highlighted in our UK Hotels Forecast 2019-2020, Brexit will significantly affect workers in the hospitality sector as free movement of EU nationals will end on 1 January 2021.

The key challenges of the new immigration system are:

  • Minimum skill thresholds mean employers will not be able to sponsor lower skilled roles, so a review will need to be undertaken to review roles that may no longer be eligible for non-UK workers
  • Employers will need to hold a Sponsor Licence to employ EU citizens
  • Employers who already have a Sponsor Licence will need to review whether their current processes can support increased volumes
  • Minimum salary thresholds will apply (usually around £25,600 but subject to some exemptions)
  • Immigration fees will apply to both EU and non-EU nationals (a five-year visa will attract upfront fees of approximately £8,500 per employee)
  • A single system will apply equally to EU and non-EU nationals

What does this mean for the hotel industry?

Skills shortages: A significant number of roles may not meet the new skills threshold criteria. For example, domestic, waiting and bar staff. Even if the skills threshold can be met EU workers may be less inclined to seek work in the UK due to the increased upfront costs of applying for a visa. The hospitality industry is understandably concerned that the lack of workers may lead to reduced hospitality services.

Increased costs: The new immigration system will create additional administrative burdens for immigration compliance resulting in more costly, complicated and time-consuming processes. Businesses will need to understand the cost implications of the new system which will include direct immigration costs such as visa fees, indirect costs associated with additional compliance monitoring requirements and the cost of automation and upskilling staff.

What steps should hoteliers take?

Get Ready
Understand what roles will still be eligible for sponsorship of EU workers under the new system
Establish what can be done to automate certain areas of your business by implementing tech-enabled solutions. Assess whether this is appropriate for your business and how it will impact customer experience.
Understand the cost implications of the new system

Be Ready
Assess whether you need to apply for a Sponsor Licence to employ EU workers.
If you have a sponsor licence, undertake an audit to ascertain whether your current processes will withstand increased volumes and remain fully compliant
Review your current HR policies to assess if they should be updated

Stay Ready
Determine what steps need to be taken to accommodate wider-reaching compliance requirements under the new system
Train internal teams on the new requirements and system
Put a plan in place to retain and upskill existing staff

Securing your workforce of the future

We have immigration specialists that have supported businesses within the hospitality sector. Our specialists fully understand the unique challenges some hoteliers face. We can provide support whether you are new to the immigration system or are an existing sponsor.

Make sure you also download our UK Hotels Forecast 2019-2020 to see what the future might hold for EU nationals in the hotels industry, as well as guidance on how hoteliers can embrace technology to enhance the customer journey, increase efficiency, reduce processes and manage data.

For more information contact:

by Matthew Lynch Solicitor & Senior Manager

Email +44 (0)7701 296261

by Andrea Als Partner

Email +44 (0)7590 352410