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WATCH: New permit scheme to tackle crippling hospitality staff shortages

WATCH: New permit scheme to tackle crippling hospitality staff shortages

Wednesday 08 February 2023

WATCH: New permit scheme to tackle crippling hospitality staff shortages

Wednesday 08 February 2023


New 12-month hospitality work permits should have a “positive impact” on tackling crippling staff shortages within the sector, industry leaders have said.

The Jersey Hospitality Association has said businesses can look ahead with renewed optimism after facing an “endless challenge” of filling job vacancies following post-Brexit regulations which placed increased restrictions on migrant workers.

During this week’s States sitting, Home Affairs Minister Helen Miles confirmed her intention to bring forward changes to the Island’s work permit policy in time for the summer season which will allow migrant staff to work in the Island for a full year ­– with the option of renewing the licences up to a maximum period of three years. After that time, the employee would have to leave the Island for a period equal to the length of time spent in the Island.

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Pictured: Hospitality firms have faced crippling staff shortages

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, EU nationals lost the right to live and work in Jersey without a visa, which led to the introduction of nine-month work permits for the agriculture, hospitality and fishing industries, as well as three-year ‘skilled worker’ permits. The inability to recruit from Europe had left many firms unable to recruit staff, with a number of restaurants being forced to reduce their opening hours amid staff shortage.

Jersey Hospitality Association Co-Chief Executives Marcus and Ana Calvani said: “Finding qualified and professional staff to fill the vacancies in our industry is an endless challenge to business owners, made worse by Brexit and the pandemic.

“We hope our members will be relieved to hear that the Minister is making these much-needed changes as a matter of priority.

“After substantial consultation with our members, we worked on a case to meet the greater industry’s needs and took it to immigration and the Minister, we are pleased that steps have been made in the right direction to deliver this proposal and that this new permit solution will sit in addition to the existing nine-month permit.”

They added that they are “incredibly excited about what this will mean for hospitality” and that further discussions with Deputy Miles will be held in the coming weeks to “iron out the details”.

“We are very grateful that our industry is being listened to and actions to remove barriers to business success are being implemented,” they added.

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Pictured: Some restaurants have been forced to reduce their opening hours

Deputy Miles, in response to a question from Deputy Lyndon Farnham in this week’s States sitting, said that it is “important to strike the right balance” in allowing necessary inward migration to allow businesses to thrive while also ensuring “security at our borders”.

She said: “When our work-permit policy was developed in the early 1980s, it was designed to keep people out and make sure that people did not come to Jersey and gain their housing qualifications and stay too long and take jobs away from local residents. Clearly, we are in a very different position now.”

She added that the question of staff shortages had been an issue that had been brought up on numerous occasions during last year’s general-election campaign, with employers feeling that the nine-month work permit policy did not “work well for them”.

Video: Home Affairs Minister Helen Miles announcing the new scheme to States Members during yesterday's States Assembly meeting.

“Labour shortages across the hospitality sector have resulted in a review of our temporary hospitality work-permit route and my intention is to introduce 12-month temporary hospitality permits that can be extended on a yearly basis up to a maximum period of three years,” the Minister added.

“At the end of that work-permit period, the employee will be expected to leave the Island for a period equal to the time that they have spent in Jersey under work-permit conditions.”

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