The government’s pledge that EU citizens will be given a two-year grace period to apply for settled status once Britain leaves the Union has been welcomed by the trade.
Uncertainty surrounding the future of EU workers – who make-up a significant number of the hospitality workforce – has plagued employers since the referendum.
It is believed around 24% of the hospitality workforce in the UK is made up of EU workers. While a KPMG report in March found that without EU workers, hospitality would face a recruitment shortfall of around 60,000 workers per year.
The latest announcement, set-out in a new working paper released ahead of the next round of Brexit talks scheduled to take place on Thursday, promise a 'streamlined system' for EU nationals. The cost will be kept to that of a British passport, it said. Those whose applications are denied will be given the right to appeal. However, it said it expected the majority of cases will be granted, with no applications to be refused on 'minor technicalities'.
'This announcement, particularly the Brexit Secretary’s comment that the Government will "…support everyone wishing to stay to gain settled status through a new straightforward, streamlined system" provides peace of mind for businesses and employees,' Kate Nicholls, CEO of the ALMR, said.
'A simple, low-cost policy with no discretion for refusals and plenty of time for completion should help provide assurances for eating and drinking out businesses, and their team members, looking to prepare for future growth and investment.'
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive, of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), added: 'I hope this will provide reassurance to the thousands of EU employees in our industry that they will be welcome in the UK, after Brexit, and that every effort will be made to make the process of gaining settled status as easy as possible. They make an essential contribution to the industry, right across the country.'
However, the proposals have not been welcomed by everyone. Not-for-profit EU citizen support group, the 3million, took to Twitter to criticise the proposals, saying with no cut-off date still officially confirmed, employers and workers were are still facing uncertainty.