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Proposed immigration changes for "unskilled" EU workers after Brexit could be “catastrophic” for the hospitality industry.
The British Hospitality Association condemned the leaked proposals by the government on how it would handle the immigration of EU citizens after the UK leaves the union in 2019.
These plans would introduce stricter rules on unskilled EU workers being employed in the UK as they would only be able to stay for up to two years.
BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “If these proposals are implemented it could be catastrophic for the UK hospitality industry and for those who enjoy the hospitality it brings – whether it be in restaurants, theatres, hotels, bars and tourist attractions.
“The government need to be urgently reminded that so-called unskilled workers in hospitality - the ambassadors for our country - are necessary. It is not just the bankers and the lawyers that are needed to fill the employment gaps.”
BHA said that its research had shown that at least 60,000 new EU workers are needed every year to fill the current level of vacancies across the hospitality industry.
“In London and the south-east, especially, some business rely totally on EU service workers,” added Ibrahim. “The UK has near full-employment so where are the recruits going to come from for the UK’s fourth largest industry that employs over 4.5 million people nationwide?
“That said the BHA has already submitted to the Government a 10-year-plan to encourage more UK people to consider a career in hospitality. It will take this long.
“The idea that so-called ‘unskilled workers’ would be able to stay for up to two years, whereas others can stay longer, is deliberately discriminatory and with other restrictions will add unnecessary red tape.”
The leaked proposals from the government have not been approved yet by the cabinet.