Nearly a quarter of hospitality employers will consider hiring more people under the age of 25 to compensate for the added cost of the National Living Wage (NLW), set to be introduced next week.
That's one of the findings from exclusive research conducted by The Caterer in partnership with temporary staffing specialist LOLA Staffing.
The NLW, announced by Chancellor George Osborne last summer, will see the introduction from 1 April of a new minimum wage of £7.20 an hour for workers aged over 25 who aren't in the first year of an apprenticeship, self-employed or volunteers. The new rate will be 50p an hour more than the current minimum wage.
There had been speculation that the move, which will eventually see the NLW rise to £9 per hour by 2020, could tempt businesses in the hospitality sector to hire more younger workers to avoid the added cost.
And it appears that a significant minority of the sector's employers plan to do just that, with 22.5% of those surveyed by The Caterer saying that they did expect to hire more people under the age of 25 to compensate for the NLW's introduction.
The majority, 60.2%, said they would not consider such a move, while a further 17.35% said they didn't know what they would do.
Commenting on the results, LOLA Staffing confirmed that it was its intention to keep the pay consistent across all age brackets. Managing director Duncan Mitchell said: "We believe it would be unfair on our many loyal workers over 25 to discriminate against them in filling roles. It is always our hope that we can demonstrate to our clients that any good worker, regardless of age, should command a competitive rate. That is where we prefer to focus."
The availability and cost of staff is a constant issue for hospitality businesses, many of which struggle to find enough good quality staff. The Caterer
A clear majority of 51% said that it would be harder to recruit, while 30% said it would be about the same. Only 5% said it would be easier. A total of 13% said it was not applicable.
"We are strong believers in the net positive effect of migration from the EU and as a result support a unified Union," LOLA Staffing said.
A total of 224 people responded to the online survey, answering a raft of employment-related questions covering pay, career progression, ambitions for a career in hospitality, and several other themes. Look out for a full presentation of the results on www.thecaterer.com and in The Caterer magazine soon.