Hospitality workers call time on exploitation at work over holiday period

Living Wage meetWorkers’ mental health at risk from being asked to work long shifts over Christmas, expected not to take breaks 

Sexual harassment from management, colleagues or customers remains a prevalent risk

Unite Hospitality activist Neil Moore spoke out for his union’s members working in the hospitality sector over the coming holiday period.

“Many hospitality workers are at breaking point this Christmas. They can be asked to work ridiculously long hours by bosses – 28 hours overtime in a month according to a survey commissioned by Matthew Clark the drinks distributor – often unpaid in the case of chefs and managers.

“Bosses’ demands put workers under huge pressure – impacting on family and friends time and the mental health of the employee. Most of our members report that during the Festive Season the eleven hour break between shifts rule goes out the window and most workers are expected not to take breaks even when working shifts of more than ten hours.

“The holiday period is the worst for sexual harassment. More than ninety percent of Unite hospitality members had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace – whether from bosses, colleagues or customers. During the holidays, the risk of harassment from customers goes through the roof and is almost normalised.

“The government consultation on licensing hours closed earlier this month. We now need action following from this to mandate businesses to deal with sexual harassment as part of the new licensing laws and any extension to opening hours must be tied to improved shift premiums for working holidays and late nights.

“In advance of any such change, workers themselves need to call time on exploitation at work during the festive season. The best way to do so is to join a trade union which understands the realities facing workers in this sector and is determined to organise to change things for the better”, Mr Moore concluded.

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