An Employment Update

Following the grey clouds of 2020-2021, 2022 seemingly got off to a flying start. We saw the re-opening of entertainment venues, and dancing shoes were removed from the back of the wardrobe. Events such as the World Cup, European Cup, British Grand Prix and the Commonwealth Games drew people together; we slowly started to remember the joys of seeing a face in real life rather than on a screen.

However, as 2022 progressed, the war in Ukraine took hold, supply chain issues magnified  and increased energy costs hit the leisure and hospitality industry hard; some businesses have passed the increases on to customers, some could not keep their doors open. Alongside spiralling costs, most businesses are working with a reduced workforce as a result of the pandemic and freedom of movement ceasing, and the Office of National Statistics predicts a drop in the GDP across 2023-2024.

Whilst the Spring budget has not afforded a VAT holiday or a reduction in business rates, the Government has promised additional energy support for eligible UK Businesses, in England, Scotland and Wales. In addition, it had pledged £63m to support punlivily0owned swimming pools and leisure centres as part of a one-year scheme to relive pressure caused by high fuel bills.

It is widely reported that inbound tourism has picked up thanks to the weaker pound, and new hotels have opened up nationwide. There are clearly growth opportunities if the right staff can be put place as consumer confidence starts to grow in the industry.

Most in the leisure industry, starts to grow in the industry, and particularly those in hospitality, are well aware of staffing shortages and , whilst there is no overnight fix, there is hope that the Government’s migration plans will help ease the labour supply pressures. As it stands visa applications for hospitality workers formed just 3% of the overall applications In 2022. In August 2022, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was commissioned to review the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) in the construction and hospitality sectors. Interim findings we published on 15th March 2023 ahead of a final review later this year. Whilst no hospitality roles have been placed on the SOL, there is time and the final outcome will be published later this year. We are hopeful that as a result of the findings, the legal migration system will become quicker and more responsive to the needs of businesses and economy. Finally, the Government has pledged to extend childcare support with the intention that more working parents may return to the workplace. The industry may well find applications are on the up as working parents re-enter the workplace. Businesses should therefore be mindful of applications for flexible working which will, in the coming months become a ‘day one right’ rather than a right reserved for employees with more than 26 weeks’ service.

Flexible working requests can take many forms. They can, for example, be for a reduction in hours, specific set hours, compressed hours, home working or job sharing, and can only be refused on one of eight prescribed business grounds, which includes the burden of additional costs, the inability to re-organise work and the detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand among others.

Thought and attention should be given to any flexible working request. They are often, but not always, intrinsically linked to caring responsibilities. If this is the case, and a flexible working request is declined without due consideration, business could find themselves on the receiving end of aa discrimination claim; something to avoid.

On a final note, keep and eye on the SOL, keep an Eye on the SOL, keep an open mind with hires and here’s to a prosperous 2023.

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