Northern Ireland news

Hotels may struggle to recruit staff if Brexit minimum wage rule is introduced

The British government is considering whether to introduce a £30,000 minimum salary requirement for foreign workers seeking five-year visas after the UK leaves the EU 

HOTELS may struggle to recruit staff after Brexit, a leading businessman has said.

The British government is considering whether to introduce a £30,000 minimum salary requirement for foreign workers seeking five-year visas after the UK leaves the European Union.

Howard Hastings, managing director of the Hastings Hotel Group, said the proposal could make it difficult for hoteliers to recruit workers.

Mr Hastings' group owns several hotels in Northern Ireland, including the Europa Hotel in Belfast and the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down.

He told the BBC: "I would be very wary that if there is a salary bar on those who can get permits to work in the UK post Brexit, that will have a detrimental impact on our industry.

"The demand that we have for skills like chefs and others is one that we will really struggle to meet from the domestic market."

Tracy Hamilton, director of Co Down business Mash Direct, said more clarity was needed over Brexit.

"A no-deal scenario is the most uncertain of outcomes - a deal needs to be reached for everyone's sake," she said.

Last week, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the proposed post-Brexit immigration rules "risk causing significant harm" to businesses in the north.

Some sectors, including food and drink manufacturing, rely heavily on workers from Europe.

The average private sector wage in Northern Ireland is £22,000 - £8,000 lower than the proposed threshold.

The CBI said 71 per cent of all workers in the north earn below £30,000.

The Home Office said the future system would "support businesses" but insisted firms should train British workers.

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