Industry bodyUKHospitality has called for the settled status fee for EU migrants to be scrapped as firms across the sector pledge to cover the cost for their employees.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "The hospitality sector hugely values its EU workforce, as it does its entire workforce. They have contributed significantly to the growth of the sector and the UK economy. This view has been shared by the government, the trade unions, all employers and the vast majority of EU citizens.
"Waiving the charge for settled status would be a fantastic gesture from the government to demonstrate that Britain is positive about those who choose to stay in this country. At a time of near-full employment, any exodus of EU citizens could be highly damaging for business and the economy."
Some in the sector, including Brasserie Blanc, Oakman Inns and Carluccio's, have pledged to cover the cost for staff to ensure retention. Speaking on Radio Four's Today programme, Oakman Inns chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said the company was willing to cover the fee for the firm's staff as well as fees for immediate family members.
When presented with the potential value of the pledge being in the region of £16,000, he said: "I'm not sure that's my biggest concern. For me, it's been much more about the possible impact with regards to how people feel about this. We're just trying to reassure everybody that someone's on their side and that they really are welcome here and we really do want them to stay with us and stay working with us".
Raymond Blanc appeared on the BBC One's Breakfast programme, cautioning that "Our industry is under tremendous stress with a lack of staff," and that of all the staff who make the sector work, "half a million come from Europe".
Nicholls added: "A number of employers have offered to pay the charge on behalf of their EU employees, at considerable cost. However, many more are unable to meet the cost. Furthermore, where the employer does meet the expense, the government is insisting that this is a taxable benefit, leading to an extra payment through income tax. It could also turn into a bureaucratic nightmare for government, business and citizens.
"It is also worth noting that EU citizens did not vote for Brexit, and most would not have expected a charge when they moved to make the UK their homes and their workplaces."