Tuesday 22 June 2021 6:00 am

Hospitality hiring crisis drives up wages by 14 per cent as venues turn to temporary workers

Hiring bottlenecks in the UK’s hospitality sector are prompting pubs and restaurants to turn to temporary staff to keep up with demand.

It has also forced companies to increase wages by as much as 14 per cent, according to new research from Indeed Flex, an online marketplace for flexible workers.

Analysis of pub, bar and restaurant shifts posted on the Indeed Flex platform shows that temps willing to work at the weekend could benefit most from the rapidly rising wages.

Average hourly pay for a weekend shift has shot up nine per cent compared to this time in 2019.

Meanwhile, weekday pay rates have risen by an average of five per cent across the UK, far exceeding the 1.8 per cent rise in the minimum wage between 2019 and 2021.

“We’ve seen an influx of people opting for temporary work as a post-lockdown lifestyle choice – as it gives them a variety and a work-life balance that a permanent job cannot,” said Jack Beaman, CEO of Indeed Flex.

“Temporary workers offer hospitality businesses vital flexibility in the current uncertain trading environment in which customer demand is strong, but margins are squeezed.”

Hospitality has been one of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, but it is now bouncing back strongly as customers rush out to enjoy food and drink.

However, the postponement of ‘Freedom Day’ in England to 19 July is hitting the industry hard, with rules still obliging them to provide table service only and limit the number of customers they serve.

The sector could come under even further strain when the business rates holiday ends on 30 June.

According to official ONS employment data, the food services and accommodation sector recorded the biggest spike in vacancies of any industry in March, up by 266 per cent.

With venues scrambling to find the staff they need, firms are turning to temporary workers to fill rotas, but the data reveals that they are paying more to attract the best people.

Pay growth has been the strongest in Greater Manchester and Cheshire, rising by almost 14 per cent since May 2019, whereas London has seen only a 3.73 per cent rise.

“The combination of booming demand from customers and the table service-only rule means thousands of pubs and restaurants need more staff – and fast,” Beaman said.

“But with bottlenecks holding up the supply of workers, forward-thinking businesses are increasingly turning to temporary staff to fill shifts and raising wages to woo the best people.”