HR in the hospitality sector

Whether you run a pub, a B&B or a restaurant, your staff are your most important asset. If you hire the right people and keep them happy, they’ll deliver a great service that’ll keep customers coming back for more.

When it comes to HR, the hospitality industry has several pressing problems that need expert knowledge to solve:

  • Employee turnover: Hospitality suffers one of the highest turnover rates in any industry. According to analysis by People 1st, turnover costs the sector £272 million per year. It also affects the morale of the staff who have to pick up the extra work.
  • Shrinkage: Shrinkage happens when you lose revenue because your employees misuse equipment, or outright steal from you. An example of this is a bartender pouring free pints for their friends.
  • Tighter immigration controls: Around 1 in 4 workers in the sector are non-British EU nationals—75% of waiters are from the EU. In the wake of Brexit, and the government’s determination to bring down net migration, businesses need to know who can work for them.

If you spend all your time dealing with these issues yourself, you won’t have time to improve your service and stay ahead of the competition.

Questions we’ve answered

3429 employers in the hospitality sector already enjoy access to our 24/7, year-round advice line. We solve most cases in a single day.

Here are some of the issues we’ve helped resolve:

  • Do I need to pay my staff for trial shifts?

    This depends on whether they do any work. If they do, then you should pay them at least the National Minimum or Living Wage. If they’re just shadowing other members of staff to get a feel for the role, you don’t have to pay them.

    It can be difficult to figure out what you should be paying your employees. That’s why our employment law experts are always a phone call away.

  • Can I take uniform costs directly out of wages?

    You can make deductions out of wages when they are required by law, authorised in a contract, or agreed in advance. If you do deduct uniform costs from wages, you must not take the employee’s pay below the National Minimum or Living Wage.

    Watertight contracts can save you a lot of hassle, because they answer all the questions your employees may have. We can help you draft contracts and other documents so that your terms of employment are always crystal clear.

  • We have busy periods throughout the year. How do I stop my staff taking holiday during these periods?

    If you need your staff to work at certain times of the year, outline it in their contracts. This will allow you to refuse an employee’s request to take time off during this period.

    Even so, you should consider why the employee is asking for time off. If you refuse to let them attend a religious festival or take care of a sick relative, for example, they could make a claim of discrimination.

    If an employee does make a claim against you, we offer extensive tribunal support. We’ll guide you through the whole process, from research to representation.

  • Do I need to give a contract to seasonal workers?

    The law requires you to give a statement of main terms to all employees who have worked for you for more than one month. They should get this within two months of their start date. If you employ seasonal workers for less than a month, you don’t have to give them a statement of main terms.

    If you’ve no idea where to start, we can help you draft a statement of main terms. You can then give a copy to your employees so they’re aware of the rules and procedures of your business.

Real-life cases

Dangerous kitchen leads to massive pay-out

A chef who worked at a bar burned his hand on some kitchen equipment, so he complained to his manager. Shortly after, the manager told him the kitchen would be closing down and dismissed him.

But after chatting with his former colleagues, the chef found out that the kitchen had remained open, so he made a claim for unfair dismissal.

The employment tribunal found that the chef had been fired simply because he complained. The tribunal also noted that his concerns were in the public interest, since anyone who entered the kitchen was at risk of getting hurt.

The tribunal ruled in favour of the chef, and awarded him £36,000.

Bar worker dismissed for social media comments

A well-known chain of bars had a social media policy that banned employees from using Facebook at work.

This didn’t stop a member of staff from posting rude and derogatory comments about a group of customers. Over 650 people saw the comments, including the daughter of one of the customers. She reported the comments to the bar, who then dismissed the employee for bringing the company’s reputation into disrepute.

The employee claimed unfair dismissal, but the tribunal sided with the employer. The employee had breached the social media policy, lowered the reputation of her employer, and betrayed their trust.

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