* Vacancies for hospitality jobs surged in April
* Brexit makes it harder to find workers
* Kitchen, back of house staff in short supply
By Muvija M
May 21 (Reuters) - British pubs and restaurants reopening
after months of lockdown are facing a potential staffing crunch
as they look to serve more hungry and thirsty customers over the
warmer summer months.
Indoor dining resumed in Britain this week and pub bosses
have told Reuters they are now seeing the impact of a
post-Brexit exodus of European workers, with a particular
concern about finding kitchen staff.
"There is a labour shortage in the UK, but I don't think
people are worried about coming back because of the virus or
because they feel the career is unstable," said Ralph Findlay,
CEO of pub company Marston's.
"The issues are more about Brexit and the shortage of EU
labour," he added as the company, which operates around 1,500
pubs, announced results this week.
Data from research firm Vacancysoft showed that posted
vacancies for permanent roles in UK hospitality had more than
doubled to 3,387 in April when outdoor dining resumed compared
with February when it was 1,309.
Britain plans to lift all Covid curbs on its economy from
June 21, including limits on the size of groups in pubs and
restaurants, but the spread of the so-called Indian variant has
put that timetable at risk.
Phil Urban, the head of Britain's second-largest pub
operator Mitchells & Butlers, said such uncertainty had
caused some workers to give up on the sector after a difficult
"I think because of the start-stop nature of lockdowns, a
lot of the people who have left the sector and gone and got
other jobs probably won't return until there is more certainty
that we are out of this," Urban said.
The pinch point will be in finding workers for the back of
house, which typically includes kitchens, offices, and storage
rooms, Urban added.
More than one in 10 of Mitchells' employees were from the
European Union before the pandemic, Urban said, adding a number
had left the country and were not unable to return because of
Brexit or pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Urban said that the staffing situation will become clearer
over the next couple of weeks, as they only find out if workers
on furlough are returning when they try to recall them.
UK staff are harder to find as millions are still benefiting
from furlough payments.
Rival pubs group Wetherspoon said it was looking for
a mix of bar or kitchen workers and front of house staff across
its 870 pubs.
Vacancysoft expects vacancies in front of house, including
waiters and waitresses, or other service roles, to hit record
levels if pandemic travel restrictions continue.
"The government will need to address and reorganise short
term visa programme by sector - with areas such as hospitality
taking precedence as these roles cannot be done remotely," its
CEO James Chaplin said, referring to workers from the EU.
(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru. Editing by Keith Weir and