Hospitality body condemns exploitation of young to fill migrant skills gaps

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has warned employers worried about the UK losing its Working Time Directive opt-out not to exploit young people working cheaply or for free to fill gaps.

Luxury hotel chain the Lancaster Landmark Hotel Group told last week that if the opt-out is scrapped, it would use work experience placements to make up the hours currently worked as overtime by permanent employees.

Acting HR director Ciara Hassan said many of the chain’s 800 employees chose to work longer than the directive’s 48-hour average working week limit.

“We are linking up with colleges to get more work experience people in to cover menial kitchen tasks, to help cope with demand,” she said.

A BHA spokesman predicted that more employers would work with local colleges to ensure a steady supply of students could work some shifts for free.

But he said: “The experience should be planned and co-ordinated with the colleges and be part of ongoing training and development schemes. Just throwing college students in at the deep end – without any training – to make up numbers is not the answer.”

Jan Marshall, HR director at The London Marriott Hotel, questioned how useful work experience people would be to employers.

“You can’t rely on them – they shouldn’t be left unsupervised and you couldn’t let them handle money. Perhaps it’s more hassle than its worth,” she said.

Members of the European Parliament will vote in mid-December on whether to allow the UK to keep its opt-out to the WTD.

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