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Oakman Inns to pay settled status fee for families of EU migrant employees

14 January 2019 by

Oakman Inns has announced it will cover the cost of migrant employees and their family members if they wish to apply to stay in the UK after Brexit.

The firm's CEO Peter Borg-Neal has pledged that the company will cover the £65 fee per person for those seeking "settled status", which will allow workers and families to remain in the country.

Oakman announced it would cover the fees on New Year's Eve following strong trading figures over Christmas, with like for like sales across the five-week period ending 6 January rising by 8.3%. The pub operator pulled in total sales of £29.7m, with total growth standing at 36.1% alongside like for like growth of 8.5%.

Borg-Neal said: "Our mood over Christmas was only dampened by the rather crass television advert that the Government put out on the 27th of December reminding our EU colleagues that they will need to apply for permission to remain in their homes and places of work after Brexit.

"We thought the timing was poor with so many people in the hospitality, care and health sectors giving up their Christmas to look after others. We announced last year that we would fund all applications for Settled Status and support the process.

"In response to the advert we announced to our people on New Year's Day that we will also extend the funding to family members."

It comes as businesses across the sector consider how to respond to the fees and paperwork required for their EU migrant workforce. Earlier this month Carluccio's pledged to pay for their employee's applications - although they did not comment on the applications of family members. Other companies, like Corbin and King, have pledged to support employees but have not yet determined what form this may take.

There is currently no government-led financial incentive in place to support businesses looking to cover the stipend for employees - adding yet another potential cost to a sector already squeezed by employment costs, rates and rents.

Industry body UKHospitality's chief Kate Nicholls said: "Opting to assist with this cost is a choice for individual operators but making any such payment tax deductible for the company and a non-taxable expense for the employee would be a very welcome incentive to do so.

"When employment costs represent a considerable proportion record level operating costs in hospitality, any extra expense will only further squeeze already tight margins."

Under the scheme EU nationals must prove their identity and address, while declaring they have no serious criminal convictions. Those who meet the criteria and have lived in the UK for five years will receive settled status, while those residing in the UK for under five years will be given pre-settled status until the time limit is reached. There are some 3.7million EU migrants in the UK who could need to apply for the classification, and each application costs £65 - or £32.50 for children.

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