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Hospitality sector sees rise in headcount and hours worked

Nonetheless, it said that a labour shortage was still evident in the industry, with overall staffing levels down 18% compared to the same period two years ago

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, all hospitality sectors saw their staff headcount and the number of hours worked rise in October against last year, according to the latest figures from software provider Fourth.

Nonetheless, it said that a labour shortage was still evident in the industry, with overall staffing levels down 18% compared to the same period two years ago.

With headcounts in the hospitality sector beginning to rise however, and more hours being worked, Fourth’s research found that rising wages were placing increased pressure on the industry.

Its data, taken from 700 hospitality businesses across the UK, found that in the highest age bracket, back-of-house roles were, for the first time, approaching £10 per hour.

Meanwhile, hourly rates of pay across pubs and restaurants have climbed steadily since trading restrictions were lifted in April, and are “likely to continue to do so” with the introduction of new National Living Wage rates coming into force in April 2022, with the headline rate for over-23s set to be increased by 6.6% from £8.91 to £9.50 per hour.

The hours worked in pubs in October 2021 were 31% higher than October 2020, while the headcount in pubs was up 2% on the previous year, but down 18% on 2019. While wages are now close to £10 an hour for back-of-house pub workers, front-of-house workers aged 23+ are currently earning an average of £9.17.

In restaurants, headcount was up 6% in October 2021 while the hours worked increased by 46% compared to 2020. Wages are also rising, with front-of-house staff aged 23+ being paid an average of £9 per hour.

Meanwhile, the headcount in the QSR sector has grown against last year for two consecutive months. It was up 12% in October, with hours worked up by 46%. This was the seventh consecutive month of growth in hours worked, Fourth reported.

In addition, hotels saw the number of hours worked increase last month, up 63% in October 2021 versus 2020, while the hotel sector’s headcounts grew by 10% over the period.

Sebastien Sepierre, managing director, EMEA, Fourth, said: “As economic activity builds and the nation begins to move again, we are beginning to see green shoots in the hospitality sector. While we are not yet back to levels of 2019, more staff are being recruited and more hours are being worked than at this time last year.

“However, this growth serves to highlight the labour shortage and just how competitive businesses must be to both attract and retain staff. The new National Living Wage rates announced in the Autumn Budget will ensure the average hourly rate of pay continues to rise, placing further pressures on hospitality businesses.”

He added: “Operators will need to look beyond hourly rates of pay to navigate these waters. Technology and digital solutions play an important role in helping operators hire, onboard, engage and retain team members. Businesses will ultimately have to be smart with their labour scheduling strategies to ensure consumer demand continues to be met and the guest experience doesn’t suffer.”

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