National Living Wage rise boosts salaries of front-of-house workers

07 April 2022 by
National Living Wage rise boosts salaries of front-of-house workers

Front-of-house hospitality staff are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the increase in the National Living Wage (NLW), with average pay rising to be more in line with back-of-house roles.

According to data from hospitality software provider Fourth, front-of-house restaurant workers aged 21-22 have seen their hourly wage rise by an average of 6.7%.

Instead of £8.60 per hour, the average rate of pay recorded in March 2022, this cohort will now earn at least £9.18 because of the rise.

Their pub-working counterparts had been earning an average of £8.87 prior the increase in NLW, which came into force on 1 April, marking a 3.5% rise in comparison.

This contrasts with the overall trend in the hospitality industry, which has seen the wages of pub workers rise faster than those in restaurants over the past 12 months. During this time, the rate of pay for all pub workers has risen by 4.9%, as opposed to 2.9% among restaurant workers.

Data from Fourth, who analysed more than 700 companies across the hospitality industry, also showed that back-of-house workers from both sectors will be less impacted by the NLW rise.

However, figures indicate that back-of-house pay has risen significantly over the past year due to the ongoing recruitment crisis. Pub kitchen workers have already seen a 6.8% pay rise, with some being paid £10.05 an hour before NLW rates were raised to £9.50, while back-of-house restaurant workers have experienced a 3.7% increase.

The NLW move is set to balance the discrepancy in pay between front-of-house and back-of-house workers in both hospitality sectors, though in many businesses front-of-house workers may receive a greater proportion of customer tips.

It raises concerns for businesses, who will be the ones paying the difference.

Fourth's data also showed that the number of hours worked by hospitality staff in March 2022 was 12% higher than that of the previous month. This is still 12% lower than the hours recorded before the pandemic.

Sebastian Sepierre, managing director – EMEA at Fourth, said: "As the hospitality industry continues on the road to recovery, it is evident that major obstacles still stand in the way. The Government's decision to go ahead with the VAT increase from 12.5% to 20% has been met with disdain and the increase in the NLW rate, while good for workers, is set to put even more pressure on already squeezed margins.

"The sector still requires as much support as it can get, in the face of the cost-of-living crisis for consumers and soaring operating costs for businesses – the VAT hike, in particular, couldn't come at a worse time and will force businesses to regrettably increase menu prices."

Image: Alena Marchuk / Shutterstock

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