The government must make a clear commitment to current residents of the European Economic Area (EEA) and establish a progressive immigration system that promotes the growth of hospitality businesses.
So said a submission from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) to the Migration Advisory Committee's call for evidence on EEA migration and future immigration policy.
Hospitality is the sector with the highest number of EEA workers in the UK and the ALMR said it wanted to draw attention to the valuable work being carried out by non-UK workers in eating and drinking out venues.
It called on the government to provide support for these employees and their employers by guaranteeing a bespoke migration system for non-graduate EU workers acknowledging specific sectors and staff shortages, clarity on any transition period and assurances that the system will be convenient, transparent and affordable.
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "There are around 150,000 EEA workers in the UK's eating and drinking out sector, making a huge contribution and helping businesses grow. Our sector has the second-highest number of EEA workers and the fifth highest by proportion. If we do not have a streamlined immigration system in place, then the growth that these employees have helped drive will be severely undermined.
"This does not come at the expense of the domestic workforce. Investment that is boosted by non-UK workers is, in many cases, re-invested in venues in terms of further employment and training for UK workers. There is a wider contribution being made that sees venues and employees in every region benefit.
"EEA migration has helped invigorate the eating and drinking out sector; businesses which have helped to revitalise high streets and drive employment in every region of the UK. A clear policy and commitment to these workers needs to be established right away provide certainty for employers and to secure the long-term stability and viability of the sector."
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