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Learnings from Hospitality Employers During a Crisis by Rachel Morrison, Living Wage Scotland

Posted: 2020-05-29 09:45:38

Learnings from Hospitality Employers During a Crisis by Rachel Morrison, Living Wage Scotland

Figures released by Resolution Foundation indicated that in April 2020 83% of all UK hospitality businesses had been forced to cease trading. So, when I was asked to lead Living Wage Scotland’s work to encourage the payment of the real Living Wage within this industry, I was more than a little nervous thinking about the potential scale of this task.

However, what I overlooked was the strength of the network of accredited Living Wage Hospitality employers in Scotland. I have had the opportunity to speak with some of the members of the Living Wage Scotland Hospitality Steering Group and hear about their experiences first-hand. I want to share the most important things I have learnt from employers. These are the people we need to listen to so we can best support the industry.

Financial support to employers must be sectoral

Based on the current Covid-19 route map produced by Scottish Government, many hospitality businesses will have to be closed longer than other businesses and will also have to make more extensive changes to their business models to re-open.  The lost income of the summer season and the cancelation of events and festivals has the potential to close parts of the industry forever. Support for the industry must be bespoke and consider the challenges being faced by our employers.  The Job Retention Scheme has been a lifeline during this crisis, but any retrenchment must consider specific barriers to industries ability to perform close to pre crisis levels.

Consumer confidence is key

When hospitality businesses can reopen it must be safe for staff and customers.  The public should be able to trust that the Scottish and UK Government have worked with the industry to make it as safe as possible.  Our employers have told us that they will of course implement all necessary measures in their locations but if the industry is to recover governments must do their part to encourage consumers back to hospitality venues.

Clear and timely guidelines for a safe return

Every hospitality employer I have spoken to has stressed the need for clear and specific guidelines on how best to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers once they reopen.  These employers must know what is going to be expected of them in terms of social distancing, staff safety, use of PPE and many other issues so they can plan to re-open safely and effectively.  The sooner this information is available the sooner employers can prepare to return.

Show your support for hospitality

What will you do when lockdown ends?  After seeing friends and family and getting back to work, the mind quickly turns to going to your favourite restaurant, bar or café. While they are closed, you can still support your favourite hospitality employers in several ways. Follow them on social media, share their content and promote them. For those that are open in some capacity, if they are selling products consider these for a gift to show a loved one you care or if it's delivery food order yourself a delicious meal. If it is from one of our accredited employers, you can also be safe in the knowledge that you are supporting an employer who believes in paying their staff a Living Wage.

Hospitality employers care deeply about their teams

This was the clearest message that I came away with from my conversations with the employers so far. Even in these challenging and uncertain times our Living Wage accredited hospitality employers are still emphasising how vital their staff are to their businesses. Their people will be crucial in ensuring that the business not just survives but thrives again.

I am looking forward to working with employers in hospitality to ensure more workers are paid the real Living Wage. And after working with these employers for a brief time it’s clear that there are already fantastic people committed to working with us to create a safe and fair industry.



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