Female Workers Step Up to Keep UK Pubs Afloat

Ahead of next month’s World Cup and the upcoming Christmas period, it’s women who will be keeping the UK’s pubs and bars flowing, according to a new report of over 2.3 million shifts worked in the UK’s hospitality sector so far in 2022.

The new report analysing shift work in the UK hospitality sector has revealed a large increase in women taking on the available shifts in pubs and bars to keep them open during the sector’s staffing crisis.

As we head into an extremely busy pub period, the hospitality sector as a whole is woefully understaffed with a record 174,000 jobs available ( and 83% more vacancies compared to 2019). But in an analysis of shifts worked so far in 2022, women are accounting for 44% of pub and bar hours worked – compared to accounting for just over a third (35%) before the pandemic.

Meanwhile the proportion of shifts worked by men has dropped from 65% in 2019 to just over half (56%) in 2022.

This is putting pubs and bars more in line with other industries in the hospitality sector such as cafes and coffee shops, which are more dominated by female shift workers at 57%.

The report from shift work platform, Deputy, The Big Shift: Rise of the Neighbourhood Economy reveals insights into how the hospitality industry is coping more than two years after the pandemic.

The report was created in partnership with independent labour economist Shashi Karunanethy PhD, who provided expert insight into market conditions and an analysis of more than 2.3 million shifts and 17.3 million hours worked by 41,884 British hospitality workers.

According to Shashi Karunanethy, many workers are being driven to work multiple jobs and to increase their share of shift work to cope with the rising cost of living.

Shashi Karunanethy said:
“Hospitality businesses are competing in a tight labour market by offering better wages, more flexibility and certainty of shifts, which is encouraging more women into the workforce.”

Commenting on the report’s findings, David Kelly, General Manager for EMEA at Deputy said:

“Women often hold much of the purchasing power in the household making them more anxious about the rising cost of living and the upcoming cost of periods such as Christmas.

“With a recession looming many women are increasing the hours they work through a second job. The widespread adoption of flexible working is also allowing more women to take on a second job, particularly in neighbourhood pubs and bars.

“Local and neighbourhood pubs and bars are seeing a boost in popularity as stay-at-home workers spend more locally, so they have more shifts available, can offer competitive wages and offer flexibility through shift work. This can allow women to secure additional work around nine-to-five jobs and childcare with the secondary income easing some worries around rising costs.”

Recent ONS figures show the hospitality sector as a whole currently has a record 174,000 jobs available and is experiencing 83% more vacancies compared to 2019. Consequently, shift workers are working longer hours, even compared to their average shift work hours before the pandemic or during peak shopping and festive seasons, such as Christmas, when shift work hours tend to seasonally peak.

Shashi Karunanethy added:
“Overall, shifts worked in bars and pubs have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels, outlining the strong recovery seen in the sector.”

For more information and additional findings, access the full report here.