The four-red-AA-star, 40-bedroom Devonshire Arms hotel in Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire, is to increase the number of chefs at its Burlington restaurant to allow them to work a four day week.
Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants Group, owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, is to invest £100,000 annually to enable the Burlington’s kitchen brigade to increase from 11 to 15. Chefs will now work 48 hours a week over four days.
The Devonshire Arms is the latest business to offer chefs a shorter working week as employers recognise the benefit of providing a better work-life balance for their staff. A recent survey by Unite cited that 51% of London chefs suffer from depression as a result of regularly working long hours, and 79% had had an accident or a near miss as a result of fatigue.
In 2015 chef-proprietor Sat Bains announced that his eponymous two-Michelin-star restaurant with rooms in Nottingham would open from Wednesday through to Saturday only.
Last year Claude Bosi’s former restaurant Hibiscus in Mayfair cut two lunch services a week, in a bid to improve consistency and give staff more time off.
And Steve Drake intends to open his new restaurant Sorrel in Dorking, Surrey, for four days a week in order to give staff time and space to cultivate their creativity.
General manager of the Devonshire Arms, Adam Dyke, said: “The introduction of shorter hours in the Burlington is a ground breaking move, which demonstrates our commitment to the sustainability of the hospitality industry, as well as putting the welfare of our chefs first and foremost – we wish to reward our chefs in a manner commensurate to their talents and hard work.
“For many years chefs have notoriously received a raw deal, working ridiculous hours for the love of the job was standard practise. Smart operators are starting to recognise that action needs to be taken to address the balance. So at ‘the Dev’, we’re acting proactively to ensure that we are seen as one of the industry leaders – as far as I know we are the first hotel in the North of England to take this step.
“Our ambition for the Burlington is simply to offer the highest standard of dining that we can possibly achieve, and with a happy, healthy and motivated team working together, we can benefit from more creativity and efficiency resulting in even greater delivery for our guests.”
Ross Daniels, chef de partie at the Burlington restaurant, said: “I’m overwhelmed really, it’s fantastic news and great just to feel that we have this backing, it makes you feel really valued that an employer is willing to invest in you like this. I can imagine a few of my mates in the industry wishing for the same contract as mine now. ”
Burlington head chef Paul Evans left the hotel last Friday and a succesor is currently being sought.
Videos from The Caterer archives