In light of the uncertainty around Brexit and what it will mean for workers from the EU and their employers, we asked spokespeople from our members Staycity and House of Fisher for their views on how the outcome may affect them and their teams.

  • What percentage of your workforce is from mainland Europe?

Ben Clayton, Head of HR, Staycity:

‘Staycity Aparthotels currently operates across the UK, Ireland and France where we employ UK citizens as well as those from outside of the UK, which make up around 70% of the workforce. This gives us every reason to watch the Brexit negotiations with interest and hope for an outcome that allows us to continue employing the workforce our business needs to succeed.’ 

Trine Oestergaard, Managing Director, House of Fisher:

‘At House of Fisher we employ some great talent from all over Europe, however Brexit is causing a real worry amongst the team and is a concern for us as a company. The current mix is approx. 60%/40% of EU workers within the company, especially in our Operations Department. 

‘Over the past year, following the Brexit decision, it has been noticeable in our Company that there has been uncertainty of the future, and increased living costs have impacted the decisions of employees to remain working in the UK.  We do not know what regulations will be imposed following Brexit but any decrease in the labour market would be a huge blow for our industry. Locally we would find it very difficult to replace such a large part of our workforce in the event of any work visa restrictions or worse.

‘We employ approx. 60% of our workforce from Europe, mainly in Housekeeping, Maintenance and Guest Services, but also myself as the Managing Director of House of Fisher! We have discovered, developed and benefited from some amazing talent from the EU workforce. We hope a deal can be developed to ensure that this will not change dramatically.

  • Can you explain the threat to your business post Brexit if they are no longer able to work in Britain

Trine Oestergaard, House of Fisher:

‘We have always embraced having a multicultural team, it gives us a great mix of lots of different backgrounds. Currently with the uncertainty and increased costs, we can see that the vacant talent pool is reduced; it can take us months to replace a staff member now that meets our required standards. When recruiting we don’t see many English CVs, which is the worry for us going forward, if EU worker numbers are restricted.

‘The hospitality industry is still seen by some as a low paid and a ‘hard work’ industry, whereas it should be recognised as secure and diverse with lots of growth opportunities with many transferable skills.’

Ben Clayton, Staycity:

‘It would be a huge challenge for us if restrictions come into force that stop the free movement of labour across Europe. The British Hospitality Association (BHA) estimates we need an additional 60,000 workers from Europe each year to support the growth of our wider industry. To close down a pipeline of incoming labour has to be a huge concern to everyone involved with the hospitality sector.

‘With our extensive growth plan, as well as existing properties in key cities, we are likely to find ourselves in an increasingly competitive labour market where particular roles prove more difficult to fill. This in turn will drive up the cost of employment and potentially restrict the cities we choose to open new properties in.’

  • What do you think about the BHA’s plan for a 10 year phased approach to this issue?

Ben Clayton, Staycity:

‘The BHA 10 year plan is well set out and identifies the impact and challenges that Brexit will have on the hospitality industry. Hospitality, as the UK’s fourth largest industry, has become reliant on workers from Europe and so it will need time to plan an alternative approach to recruitment and to phase in the additional costs that will be incurred. We will also need this time to work with key stakeholders in education and training to encourage more young people into the industry and demonstrate the careers and roles that are available to them.’

Trine Oestergaard, House of Fisher:

‘We absolutely agree, as mentioned, the hospitality industry needs to be ‘repositioned’ as a great and secure place to work, it’s an industry where you can make a long term career with amazing progression possibilities. However, if the government doesn’t support the transition, we could end up with a reduction in hospitality businesses altogether, the industry is heavily supported by EU workers and will struggle to continue at the same growth level as seen.

‘It’s vital that we engage and attract more interest from the UK workforce. In addition, we believe this could hurt ‘secondary locations’ outside cities like London, like us in the Thames Valley areas, as London will be seen as a much more attractive place to work, with more possibilities.‘ 

  • Do you have any further comments?

Trine Oestergaard, House of Fisher:

‘It’s important that studies and apprenticeships are available to entice young people in the UK to try out the hospitality industry. There are many great examples of strong careers such as myself, coming over from Scandinavian 20 years ago and working in hotels in London, progressing through the ranks. The UK has some of the best known hotels in the world with great tradition for excellent service, offering multicultural environments for young people. At House of Fisher we believe the UK should be a country open to business and opportunities to the best talents from around the world, we offer a great experience and fantastic prospects.’

Ben Clayton, Staycity:

‘This is a period of great uncertainty for all operators as we head towards the next 18 months of Brexit negotiations. It’s a time for the government to take notice of an industry that is reliant on the free movement of labour and to take stock of the wider implications of stopping or reducing this free movement without due consideration and without having developed a phased approach with the key stakeholders involved.’

ASAP and the NewsHub would like to thank Ben and Trine for their insights.



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