The government has sought to reassure the 3m European migrants living in the UK by publishing details on how they can request ‘settled status’.
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) estimates that there are 180,000 EU nationals working in the UK hospitality industry.
EU citizens will have a two-year grace period to apply for the status, which the government says will be a ‘simple’ process costing ‘no more…than a British passport’.
The government said it expected most applications to be accepted, though there will be an appeals process for those rejected.
'Essential contribution to the industry'
A KPMG report issued earlier this year warned that restaurants, hotels and pubs could face a shortfall of around 60,000 workers a year if they are blocked from employing European staff.
“I hope this will provide reassurance to the thousands of EU employees in our industry that they will be welcome in the UK, after Brexit, and that every effort will be made to make the process of gaining settled status as easy as possible," said Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association.
“They make an essential contribution to the industry, right across the country. It is good to see the Government making it clear that they will be welcome, and pushing the EU to resolve their status as soon as possible in the Brexit negotiations.”
The ALMR, which represents restaurant, pub and bar groups, said the announcement offered ‘peace of mind’ for hospitality businesses.
“A simple, low cost policy with no discretion for refusals and plenty of time for completion should help provide assurances for eating and drinking out businesses, and their team members, looking to prepare for future growth and investment,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR.
Uncertainty over the impact of Brexit has led to some operators scaling back their expansion plans. Jason Atherton told the Restaurant Congress earlier this year that he had put plans for 'two or three new concepts over the next five years' on hold until he found out 'what Brexit means'.
"When I speak to all my restaurant and hotelier friends everyone feels the same way," he said.