Employment

Hospitality job vacancies ‘nosedive’ as Omicron causes Christmas party cancellations

Pubs and restaurants are pressing pause on hiring in the face of more uncertain times

Students home for the holidays may find it harder to bag a job in hospitality than they thought Image: Unsplash / Arthur Edelmans

Restaurant and pub bosses are holding back on hiring as Omicron spreads through the UK, dampening hopes for a fully-booked festive season. 

Job ads in the hospitality and catering sector fell 25 per cent the week after the Omicron variant was announced as arriving in the UK, according to new data released by jobs search engine Adzuna.

Monday December 5 saw the lowest number of job ads in the sector since August, bucking the seasonal trend of restaurants boosting staff numbers to cope with Christmas parties

“Omicron has slammed the brakes on early for hospitality,” said Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna. 

“Uncertainty is hitting the hospitality industry and hiring has nosedived in the last week. Employers are holding back hiring as they wait and see the effect of the variant on their businesses, be that cancelled Christmas bookings or staffing issues caused by employees needing to isolate.”

More than a thousand people a day are being infected with the Omicron variant in Britain with cases doubling every three days, reports The Times

“Every restaurant I’ve spoken to today, is now experiencing Xmas party cancellations,” said Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester.

“Most of these businesses desperately needed a good December. The knock on effect will be catastrophic.”

While the government has said there is no need to cancel Christmas parties, yet, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has advised people to take a Covid test before heading out to a social gathering, including work-based festivities. 

However office Christmas parties are being cancelled and employees told to work from home as companies take precautions despite reassurance from ministers. Some restaurants are also reporting a pattern of no-shows as parties back-out last minute. 

Restaurants and bars have been hit by a staffing crisis since the summer, sparked by the pandemic and Brexit, and increased demand from customers keen to get back to eating and drinking out after covid restrictions were lifted. 

It is estimated that there are around 1.2 million job vacancies in the UK as the country faces a labour market shortage. 

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