Uncertain future for hospitality industry's EU staff

Hospitality industry faces uncertain future for EU staff

EU nationals working in the UK’s restaurants, pubs and hotels have been thrown in to limbo after MPs passed the Brexit bill on Monday, leaving the government free to kick start the process of the UK leaving the EU.

MPs overturned attempts by the House of Lords to guarantee the residency rights of EU citizens currently living and working in the UK.

Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday that the status of EU nationals would be dealt with 'at an early stage' of the Brexit negotiations but could not be resolved without a deal on the rights of Britons living in Europe.

May also confirmed that she would trigger Article 50 to begin the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc before the end of the month.

The announcement comes the same week as figures showed that over 50% of people applying for work in London’s top restaurants and hotels were EU citizens from outside the UK.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has predicted that hotels and restaurants will go bust unless EU migrants are allowed to continue staffing businesses.

Foreign nationals make up almost a quarter of the total hospitality and tourism workforce, according to research from the Association for Licensed Multiple Retailers. The number rises to almost 40% for eating and drinking-out businesses, with almost half of those coming from within the EU.

The ALMR , which represents 23,000 pubs, clubs, bar and casual dining operators, predicts that the industry will need to recruit over 1.3m people before 2024 if it is to keep growing at its projected rate.

“Over a quarter of these vacancies will be hard to fill, making access to migrant labour all the more vital,” says ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“The Government needs to ensure that arrangements for both employers and migrant employees are put in place well in advance of the eventual withdrawal date to ensure that businesses have some clarity and a chance to plan accordingly.”

The Brexit bill is expected to receive Royal Assent and become law today (14 March).

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