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Coronavirus pandemic saw 30,000 lose their jobs in hospitality last year

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a 163% rise in restaurant job losses in the UK in 2020 and will make for a challenging start to the year for HR.

Data compiled by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) has revealed that 29,684 jobs were lost across fine dining, independent hospitality businesses and large multiple casual-dining chains during the year.

Jonathan Richards, CEO of employee benefits firm Breathe, told HR magazine that an increase in job losses will mean more work for employers.

He said: “It’s critical for businesses to develop a plan to deal with job losses sensitively, prioritising company culture and transparency at every turn to ensure that employee wellbeing remains front of mind.

“There are difficult times ahead for many people and employers should do their best to make this process as easy as possible”

The sharp increase from 11,280 job losses in 2019, has been caused by two national lockdowns, local lockdown restrictions, curfews, changes to service rules and recently strengthened tier measures.

It paints a challenging picture for hospitality as the UK enters a third national lockdown.

Prof Joshua Bamfield, the CRR’s director, said the pandemic had accelerated a major shakeup of the sector that was already taking place.

“The sector experienced rapid growth in outlets during 2014 to 2017 as successful chains added additional branches, but they frequently paid too much, while maintaining quality standards proved difficult,” he said.

“The need to cut costs caused by over-expansion, increased competition and weak consumer demand produced a crisis in the industry before the pandemic.”

Further reading:

Coronavirus redundancies create 22 days of overtime for HR teams

Handling redundancies with sensitivity

Though more positive news may be on the horizon.

Joanne Frew, head of employment at law firm DWF, said that the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will provide employers with some hope.

She said: “Although the figures paint a bleak picture, the combination of extended government support and the promise of an effective vaccine should help to instil confidence in employers going forward.”

“However, at the close of an already incredibly challenging year, employers are also faced with the impact of Brexit. A top priority for employers whilst the government support is still in place will be to focus on business continuity and labour supply."