Alan Sillett, president of the Guernsey Hospitality Association, said the effects of the UK voting to leave the European Union in 2016 were still being felt
and were compounded by Covid-19.
‘The process of recruiting from the EU can take anything up to eight weeks now,’ he said. ‘I have to say that as soon as the referendum result was announced five years ago the numbers of applicants from the EU reduced quickly.’
The exchange rate with the pound had a detrimental effect, he added, as did the introduction locally of the population management regime that led to many EU guest workers leaving the island.
‘Recruitment was a challenge prior to Brexit, but now with the pandemic added into the situation it is extremely difficult. Some hospitality businesses have turned to recruiting from non-EU countries via agencies who manage the whole process of visas, work permits, travel, and other admin required.
‘For the previous States to have voted in the PMR was irresponsible, especially since our industry lobbied strongly against it – warning that it would be another hurdle we did not need, and also we were yet to see what the effects of Brexit were going to be.’
Mr Sillett said that an action group to assist in tackling staff shortages would be a ‘positive’ initiative, having recommended such a move about three years
‘Many deputies need to have a change of mindset on this issue, and realise we need to start working on attracting good people to come and work/live here rather than deter them.’
Home Affairs president Deputy Rob Prow has said a review of Guernsey’s population and immigration policy is ready to begin with terms of reference agreed between separate committees. The timing depends on the priority given to it during an Assembly debate on the
Government Work Plan, he said.
In June, Home Affairs also announced an exemption for ‘nine months on, three months off’ workers. All employees on a so-called 9/3, or discretionary resident permit, can remain in Guernsey without leaving the island for three months after working here for nine, as usually directed by the licence conditions.
The exemption, originally introduced in November 2020 to support businesses and staff during the pandemic, will remain in place until at least the end of September.
The committee’s decision came after some businesses warned their recovery from the pandemic was affected by the threat of
staff having to leave the island.