Please send letters to: The Editor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS. They may be faxed on 020 8652 8973 or e-mailed to email@example.com. The opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily shared by the editor or other members of the magazine's staff. We welcome views on any subject relevant to the catering industry, but request that letters be kept short and to the point. The editor reserves the right to edit and select letters.
I have been reading with interest that poor working conditions and pay are the main reasons why the hospitality industry has such recruitment difficulties, but I am becoming concerned that the increasing level of employment legislation is also stacking the pack against the employer.
Staff employed at my hotel receive an employment contract clearly defining their terms and conditions, which, I understood, protected the employee and employer.
Recently my head chef, who is contracted to provide two months' notice, walked into the restaurant before a busy service and theatrically announced to the staff present that he was resigning, and left, taking with him menus and recipes built up over his seven years at the hotel.
Since he left owing the hotel a substantial sum of money, I contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau and was aghast to be informed that they would not recommend further action as it was unlikely a court would enforce the notice period.
If this is true, I would be interested to know whether an industrial tribunal would be so lenient to me if I had walked into the kitchen and summarily sacked the head chef with no notice, no explanation and no payment. I would, rightly, be severely castigated and fined, and the chef would receive substantial compensation.
Perhaps employers should start the fight to even the pack so at least we are all playing to the same rules.
Colin Gray, Tudor Farm House Hotel & Restaurant, Clearwell, Gloucestershire.
David Coubrough's Viewpoint, "Hospitality: the new rock'n'roll" (Caterer, 2 May, page 14), threw up some amazing statistics about population contraction in Europe and growth in other regions and the critical impact that this will have on our industry.
With a severe lack of capable and willing staff already, combined with a rapidly growing demand for sustainable improvements in standards of service, it would seem that hoteliers and caterers will be faced in the future with a huge reduction in the availability of suitable employees and may struggle to find, let alone hire, even one pair of hands.
It was against this backdrop that the Ultimate Service Awards were conceived last year to recognise and reward those hotels and their staff that provide exceptional service and add value to the guest experience.
It was felt that, while operators are conscious of the role and importance that service plays in exceeding guest expectations, investors and others may be less aware.
In an attempt to reach the widest possible audience, therefore, the International Hotel Investment Forum, which was held in Berlin, was selected as the most suitable platform for announcing the results (see www.caterer.com/archive, 20 March).
If the statistics quoted by David Coubrough are accurate, the industry urgently needs to develop a viable, co-ordinated strategy to improve its image as a career employer or risk losing out to other industries in an increasingly competitive and shrinking labour market.
The Ultimate Service Awards may be only a brick in the wall but, in an industry where service still remains the cornerstone, the necessity for attracting and encouraging people to select a career in catering at all levels and in every sector has never been greater.
Richard Garland, Richmond International Hotel & Leisure Design Consultants, London SW1.
Liz Clifton of Berkeley Scott (Caterer, 18 April, page 18) hits the mark when she says that recruiters in hospitality will have to radically alter their thinking - but for different reasons. Having been in the business for over 18 years, working my way up from the bottom as well as gaining a degree in hotel management, I was recently sent to an interview with a large hotel group [that is] in debt to the banks.
At the interview it rapidly became apparent that something was grossly amiss. I was kept waiting for over an hour by the personnel manager, who appeared to be racially biased and intent on picking holes in my CV. No effort was made to give me information about the job or remuneration.
I seriously wondered why I had been made to travel 120 miles for an interview that was going nowhere. I was not made to feel welcome; nor was I reimbursed. I left with a very poor impression of the so-called professional recruitment manager and realised that she was either incompetent or racially bigoted.
From this experience it is evident to me that the hotel business today is being run by groups whose interests are only rapid monetary gain, who are morally bankrupt and who do not respect people.