Petition Allow EU nationals to come to the UK to work in hospitality for up to 2 Years
The Government should create a special visa for people from the EU countries to come to the UK to work in the hospitality industry for a period of up to 2 years, similar to the Seasonal Work visa for horticulture workers. Some countries have visas like this to support the hospitality sector.
There is a massive shortage of qualified labour in the UK to fill vacancies that were in many cases previously filled by EU staff. For years people from the EU countries were the backbone of the hospitality industry and many were affected by COVID and subsequently by Brexit's final terms. Many restaurants are struggling to find people with experience and willingness to work.
This response was given on 5 September 2022
The Government has no plan to introduce a visa route for recruitment at or near the minimum wage with relatively short training. Businesses should invest in and develop the UK’s domestic labour force.
Our policies are to enable the legitimate movement of people and goods to support economic prosperity. It is our vision that a global and streamlined points-based immigration system and a dynamic and digitised border, underpinned by data, delivers for the UK as a global trading nation. The points-based immigration system will affect talent to the UK, irrespective of nationality.
We recognise the ending of free movement is a significant change for businesses. The Government believes immigration must be considered alongside investment in, and development of, the UK’s domestic labour force, rather than as an alternative to it. This includes areas, like those in the hospitality industry, where training requirements are relatively short and should be easily accessed by the resident population. It is also worth noting similar recruitment issues for hospitality businesses are being reported in countries within the European Union, further indicating immigration is not the go-to solution for them.
Enquiries on how best to address recruitment issues and/or take advantage of the skills system to grow the workforce should in the first instance be directed to the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department for Education, as the Departments dealing with employment and skills respectively. We continue to support industries to achieve sustainable solutions to labour shortages through making roles more attractive to UK workers, with better pay and working conditions.
We have expanded the range of jobs eligible under the Skilled Worker visa route to include all jobs skilled to Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3, equivalent to A levels. The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) assessed the skill level of jobs based on the Standard Occupational Classification system used by the Office for National Statistics. The skills threshold was previously set at degree-level jobs and modelling by the MAC suggests the new, broader RQF3 threshold strikes a reasonable balance between controlling immigration and business access to labour.
We continue to engage with sectors across the economy as they adapt to changes in the UK labour market.
Beyond the Skilled Worker route, there is also the existing UK labour market, which includes UK-based workers, our British National (Overseas) visa for those from Hong Kong, dependants of those arriving under the expanded Skilled Worker route, and those who arrive through other routes, such as our family and humanitarian protection routes, who all have full access to the UK labour market. People in routes such as these are free to work in the UK without being sponsored and are not subject to salary or skill requirements in terms of the roles they undertake.
Millions of EU workers who were in the UK prior to the end of the transition period have applied under our hugely successful EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS); over 6.5 million as of 31 March 2022. Those with a status under the EUSS can continue to live and work in the UK. Although the deadline for the EUSS has now passed, those with reasonable grounds for missing it can still apply.
Those with settled status who have left the UK are free to return within five years, and those with pre-settled status can return within two years, meaning this pool of labour continues to be available to UK employers to recruit from, even where workers have returned overseas.
The Government implemented an unprecedented package of measures to support businesses during the pandemic including funding to furlough staff. Our Plan for Jobs is therefore focused on helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work, rather than providing alternatives to this via immigration policy.
At 100,000 signatures...
At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament