Covid and jobs: Why are hospitality workers leaving the industry?

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Restaurants and bars have seen an enthusiastic return of customers since restrictions were eased across the UK, but it’s been a different story with staff.

After months of closure under lockdown, the hospitality sector has struggled to find workers as it fully reopens.

Former restaurant worker Aleksandra Zadroga said being on furlough had given many a “push” to quit.

So why are they so keen to leave the industry?

Ms Zadroga, 26, from Swansea, quit her job in hospitality to pursue a new career following months on furlough, which she said had made her re-evaluate her work-life balance.

“It takes its toll on you… it’s very tough these days,” she said.

Having started out as a waitress eight years ago while at university, she’d progressed to duty manager by the time the pandemic hit and she was put on furlough in March 2020.

“While most people think it must be nice to be on furlough and get 80% paid, it was just very stressful,” she said.

“You don’t really know when you’ll be coming back to work, whether it would be full-time or part-time, whether your job will still be there because some restaurants had to close down.”

‘I now have an eight-hour day’

When restrictions were lifted by the Welsh government, Ms Zadroga returned to work. But days later, she quit with nothing else lined up.

“I think for a lot of people going back to hospitality after such a long period on furlough is just a huge readjustment – you have to be on your feet for 14 hours again and that’s not easy,” she added.

“Having to wear a face mask for 14 hours is very difficult… it was just the last straw really.”

Despite having no prior experience in the recruitment industry, she was hired by Work Wales the following day as a recruitment administrator and has since been promoted to the role of recruitment and compliance officer.

“I get to have a weekend these days, I don’t work as much overtime, I have an eight-hour day rather than 14-hour,” she said.

How many hospitality workers have left the sector?

Figures suggest more than one in 10 UK hospitality workers left the industry in the last year.

The latest figures from global recruitment firm Broadbean Technology found that in April, vacancies in UK hospitality soared 77% from the previous month. However, compared with April 2020, the number of applications slumped 82%.

Ryan Jones, the business manager at Ms Zadroga’s new employer, Work Wales, said hospitality businesses had needed extra help finding employees to fill gaps when reopening after lockdown.

Recruitment site said the pandemic and Brexit were to blame.


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