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Restaurant owners working 100-hour weeks as chef and staff shortages bite

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Restaurant owners have reported working 100-plus hours a week due to staff shortages – the equivalent of £2.40 an hour.

Experts have voiced concerns about the negative impact on mental health as businesses struggle to recruit enough labour following the reopening of the hospitality industry.

Data from recruitment site CV Library show that job postings in April were up 37% month-on-month and fourfold on the same period last year.

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However, despite the huge influx in job ads, there are currently 335,000 fewer people employed in the hospitality industry compared to last year, according to the ONS.

A recent report by the online training provider, High Speed Training found that a third of people feel that roles in hospitality offer little progression and are not considered ‘careers for life’, with further negative perceptions around low salaries and workplace stress.

Josh Molloy, co-owner of Paradise Tap & Taco in Harrogate, is one operator that is experiencing difficulties in finding staff.

He said: “We’ve been trying to recruit for almost two months now, even getting to the point where someone agreed to join the team but changed their mind and went elsewhere at the last minute.

“I think we’re struggling because our society doesn’t value jobs within the industry as skilled – we’re frequently asked what we ‘really want to do’ or younger staff are asked ‘what they’re studying’. We’re an exception as we pay ‘Real Living Wage’, but it’s generally a poorly paid industry in relation to the physical effort expected from staff.

“Outside of the current prevailing sense of positivity, the public often treats staff within our industry with very little respect.”

Mr Molloy said that his company’s predicament meant he worked 100 hours last week.

“As a start-up money is still very tight so my pay for this week was effectively £2.40 per hour. Then there is the staff who are all tired so no-one is doing their best work, causing customers to complain, which knocks staff morale too.

“If we can’t recruit soon, we’ll have to draw a line and place the mental health of the team ahead of the success of the company, opening up less hours or days.”

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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