Plans to “effectively name and shame” employers of non-UK nationals have been attacked by the leading industry body for the bar, pub and club trade.
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has criticised government proposals, outlined by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, to encourage businesses to employ more British people.
Her ideas included forcing employers to disclose what percentage of their workforce is non-British and to demonstrate what they have done to “foster a pool of local candidates”.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Any plan to spotlight those businesses deemed not to be doing enough to support British workers would be hugely unhelpful and shows a lack of understanding of the way in which many operate.
“Pubs, bars and restaurants do not actively recruit abroad seeking foreign workers – they recruit locally, and it is unfair to imply that businesses are failing to support the UK workforce or failing in their duty to provide opportunities or training.
“Pubs, bars and restaurants invest a significant amount of time and money in their employees whether they are UK or non-UK nationals. Any implication that UK businesses are failing the UK populace by hiring migrant workers is unfair and uninformed.
“Migrant workers make up 24% of the total hospitality workforce and they do a valuable and much-appreciated job in roles that can be hard to fill.
“Research by People 1st shows that the hospitality industry will need to recruit 11,000 chefs by 2024. With colleges reporting a decline in interest for full-time chef programmes, hospitality businesses will have to work hard to fill these and other vacancies, and non-UK workers will make a vital contribution filling these gaps.
“This is not a deliberate effort to undermine the British workforce – it is a sector responding to pressures and attempting to fill a very difficult skills shortage.
“The Government does not need to determine what is or isn’t an appropriate proportion of non-UK workers and measures to effectively name and shame such employers are unhelpful and misguided.”
Rudd’s proposals to change entry rules on foreign workers were challenged by Adam Marshall, acting director general of the British Chambers of Commerce.
“While it is understandable that the government is looking at ways to control migration in the aftermath of the EU referendum, a further squeeze on key business hires and international students would be bad news for the economy, job creation and business investment.
“Now is not the time to tell businesses that they have to jump through more hoops to get the talent they need from around the world.
“Many companies already have a hard time bringing in critical workers when they can’t find the right skills at home in the UK, and tighter regulations may simply leave many choosing not to recruit or expand at this time.”