“We literally don’t have time to take breaks”: How staff shortages affect hotel workers Business News

As customers frantically began to book tables of six in pubs and restaurants after months of closure, workers were leaving the hospitality industry in droves.

Brexit and the pandemic have exacerbated long-standing problems in parts of the sector, leading unions to call for better wages and working conditions in order to attract and retain staff. Meanwhile, workers who remain in the industry bear the brunt of labor shortages, portraying chaotic shift patterns and spiraling workloads as they struggle to keep up with demand.

Restaurants and pubs have said up to a quarter of people employed in the industry before the pandemic will not return, leaving many sites struggling to recruit qualified staff. According to trade organization UKHospitality, 85 percent of establishments are looking to hire chefs, while 80 percent need front desk staff.

Kevin, chef in a large hotel group in the east of England, says the situation is approaching a “crisis point” in his kitchen.

“The pressure is insane. Because you are understaffed all the time, the workload skyrockets. There is just no understanding of it, ”he says. “The stress on duty was so mental that this week I brought out two chefs, two days in a row – one left in tears and the other came out angry. The team is at breaking point, quite frankly. I saw a chef in tears most of the day.

Although the pandemic has exacerbated the problem, Kevin says the problems in his workplace have been around for a long time. “The leader shortage problem has come to a head, but it has been going on for years. Obviously, the more chefs leave the sector, the more pressure it puts on those who are still there. “

He believes the pandemic has led many chefs to re-evaluate their career choices. “They’ve gone to do something else, even if it’s working in retail or driving Tesco delivery vans, just because they have a better work-life balance and don’t want to anymore. breaking your neck for a bite of bread, ”he says.

Meanwhile, a deputy manager of a pizza restaurant chain in the east of England recounts The independent that the restaurant in which he works operates with 50 percent of his usual staff; he estimates that they have about one waiter for every 20 tables.

“Right now, I’m a bit of everything,” explains the deputy director, who does not want to give his name. “When the weekend rolls around we literally don’t have time to take breaks – there’s always a line at the door.

“There’s no pot washing during peak times – it’s just someone absolutely hit and miss, from the storefront or a manager, but the one who goes and does it makes it short.”

Demand for workers in the hospitality industry has increased dramatically following the easing of restrictions on coronaviruses


The labor shortage is also affecting work habits. A server at a private club in London recounts The independent that staff are forced to work split shifts that consume the entire day. Before the pandemic, employees were working sooner or later. Now they are being asked to work the busiest hours of a morning shift and then return to cover the lunch period in order to stretch the limited number of employees.

“There’s not much you can do. You work in central London. You don’t live in central London. You can’t go home, ”says the waiter, who does not want to give his name, adding that his“ body clock is everywhere ”.

Also in London, a director of an upscale hotel group said one of the company’s 400-room hotels was only managed by three staff each night.

“The workload increases for the same number of people. So we have one person during the day and two people at night, and everything has to be done. We have to meet the targets, ”the official said, adding that they had about half the staff they had before the pandemic. “One of the other managers said to me, ‘I’m dying here, trying to cover room service with three staff,’” he says.

The manager, who asks to remain anonymous, said the group recalled staff it sacked in September, only to offer them significantly reduced hours, leading many to leave the meeting. Most of the former hotel staff were foreign nationals, and many did not return to the UK after traveling to their home countries during the pandemic.

GMB national secretary Andy Prendergast said the pandemic “just exacerbated” a problem caused by Brexit. “Employers need to work with unions to address long-standing issues within the industry, such as perceived lack of status, lack of career opportunities and unsociable schedules, to create a more attractive career. for workers moving forward.

“The truth is, in the short term, the coronavirus is not going anywhere, so even if the government changes immigration rules, in the world of closed borders, we are …

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This notice was published: 2021-06-27 12:30:39

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