Trade body leaders from across the industry have called on new prime minister Theresa May to provide stability for the hospitality sector.
Concerns over the status of EU workers in the UK after Article 50 has been invoked featured prominently in the pleas from the sector, which relies heavily on migrant workers. Research from employment consultancy People 1st estimated in August 2014 that migrants make up some 26% of the UK hospitality workforce, rising to 69% in London.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ (ALMR) Kate Nicholls said the new PM now needed to settle a number of employment law issues as soon as possible.
Both welcomed a potential end to the uncertainty surrounding a future leader for the UK, but said the impending Brexit negotiations still present significant concerns to the industry, not least due to the risk of plummeting consumer confidence.
Simmonds said: 'The forthcoming Brexit negotiations still present considerable concerns, to both business and consumer confidence.
'It is vital that, in the short term, government looks at some of the regulatory costs already in the pipeline; from the National Minimum Wage and Living Wage, through to business rates revaluation, the Apprenticeship Levy and auto-enrolment of pensions for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
'In the longer term, balancing free movement and free trade is not going to be easy, and we need to ensure that the competitive position of beer and pubs in Britain is protected throughout negotiations.
'The BBPA will be liaising with new members of the Cabinet in the coming weeks to set out our position, and to ensure they are aware of the vital role our industry plays in the British economy.'
Nicholls said: 'We now need a clear road map to lock in competitiveness and allow companies to reliably plan ahead for the future – particularly around recruitment. [May] must ensure that the needs of sectors like hospitality and small businesses are taken into account – simple access to the single market, the ability to hire the right people and driving down the costs and burdens of regulation.
'Above all else, we call on Theresa May as one of her first acts as the new Prime Minister, to guarantee non-UK EU nationals, many thousands of whom work in our pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants, to be granted the right to remain in the UK both before, during and after the negotiations. We need a clear Brexit employment strategy.”