Permits extended to ease staff crisis

Permits for workers in the hospitality industry have been extended to help tackle ‘an acute shortage of staff’ within the industry.

Claire Boscq, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, said the sector had been given 'breathing space'
Claire Boscq, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, said the sector had been given 'breathing space'

Home Affairs Minister Gregory Guida has announced an exception to the Immigration Work Permit Policy, allowing migrant workers from outside the Common Travel Area who are working in the hospitality sector to remain beyond the existing nine-month temporary seasonal permission.

This applies to anyone currently on a nine-month hospitality work permit – or whose start date is on or before 1 May 2022 – granting an additional nine months on top of the original permit, without the requirement for the holder to leave Jersey for three months in between.

The move comes as a number of hospitality and retail businesses have been forced to close or reduce opening hours owing to staff shortages. Several firms have also had to abandon expansion plans. The Dodo Café at Jersey Zoo has been forced to close on Mondays and Tuesdays, while the Ranch, which recently opened a restaurant in Gorey, is closing its flagship St Ouen outlet.

Claire Boscq, chief executive of the Jersey Hospitality Association, said: ‘We are pleased that the hospitality sector has been given a breathing space that will allow our members to hold on to essential staff for longer, especially after 18 months of disruption. When the restrictions on trading were finally lifted, we were hoping for a swift return to normal business, but as has been widely reported, many venues struggled due to an acute shortage of staff.’

She added that the extension would help provide certainty for businesses as they prepared for the summer season next year.

‘The decision to extend existing work permits is a step in the right direction. It means our members will be able to keep the loyal and hardworking team members who have helped their businesses through tough times this year when normally they would have to leave at the end of their nine month permit.’

Deputy Guida said: ‘The opportunity for employers to extend their permits by nine months provides much-needed and immediate assistance to the hospitality sector.

‘This move will allow time for the labour market to stabilise and for us to gather reliable data before considering any substantive changes to the Work Permit Policy.’

Deputy Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham added that the move would help the industry but admitted it was only an ‘interim measure’.

He said: ‘All hospitality employers will have this option available to them and I’m grateful to the Jersey Hospitality Association and Jersey Business, who are working hard with the Jersey Customs and Immigration Service to find solutions that will assist the Island in the longer term.’

Ms Boscq said: ‘We hope that this temporary extension will produce enough data to provide a more permanent solution to the staffing challenges our members are facing.’

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