By Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine (www.kalkine.co.uk)
The UK Hospitality sector has been hit by serious staff shortages due to Brexit on European Union (EU) workers and the pandemic. The Isle of Man’s Department of Enterprise has recently brought forward changes to Seasonal Workers Migrant visa rules in the hospitality businesses to make it easier for workers from the EU countries to work on the island for nine months if they have work arrangements with a local business. The move was taken in response to a request from the hospitality sector, which is currently facing a shortage of workers. This rule is currently not applicable in the UK.
Visa rule relaxation
From 24 February, all covid regulations, including the requirement to self-isolate even if a person is tested positive along with the Covid test requirement for vaccinated travellers to the UK, have been abolished by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The hospitality businesses are supposed to be the biggest beneficiary of the announcement, but staff shortages are forcing them to reduce their working hours or shut their doors.
The step taken by the Isle of Man is a positive step for the hospitality business as it enables them to employ non-British, non- Irish, and non-settled seasonal workers, including those impacted by Brexit, to fill the vacant positions. The visa rule will also be applicable for workers who have not already held a similar visa in the UK, Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands, within three months prior to applying. However, the rule states that the person applying must hold a valid approval of employment offered by the Island’s employer, and they must be receiving a minimum salary of £20,800, on a pro-rata basis for the passing nine-months period.
The rule also says that if the applicants for seasonal workers’ migrant visas fulfil all the requirements, they can move to a worker migrant visa while working in the Isle of Man. They will no longer need to meet the English language requirements, unlike the existing worker migrant visa scheme, and will have to pay a significantly low fee of £244. However, self-employed or those into an agreement similar to self-employment are not eligible for the visa.
Some other measures to support the Hospitality industry
In order to support and rebuild the hospitality sector from Pandemic and staff shortages, the government should come up with additional measures. The United Kingdom requires consistent rules across the country, which at present are coherent and create confusion and impact consumer confidence negatively. Industry body UKHospitality has urged the government to increase trust in the businesses that they are capable of taking care of their staff and customers.
The government has been professing for a ‘living with Covid’ plan, but for that, the government should swiftly implement measures that are most effective in combating Covid, including vaccines and testing resources. International tourism and travel should not face a setback with any change in stance and dampening the confidence of the domestic industry. The hospitality sector is facing a lot of headwinds when they are low on cash and struggling with the rise in cost. If there is visa rule relaxation, it could help them meet their immediate challenge of staff shortage.