Hotels in Ireland have begun trialling the four-day working week in an effort to attract the required staff following the significant outflow of workers in the sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It comes as a new industry survey shows salaries in the hotel and catering industry soar as attracting and retaining staff puts ‘severe pressure’ on Irish businesses.

The survey from Excel Recruitment’s Employee Feedback Survey shows the average salary of a chef de partie in Ireland is expected to reach €40,000 this year, while executive chefs can anticipate a salary of anywhere between €75,000 to €90,000.

The significant increase in salaries across the sector has put Irishbusinesses under extreme pressure following the mass-exodus of hospitality staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Excel Recruitment Managing Director Shane McLave said the pandemic led to a huge volume of staff leaving the sector entirely to embark on new careers, bringing the industry to its knees.

He said some of the clients they work with have been trialling a four-day workweek in a bid to compete for job applicants.

“The four-day workweek would be very attractive for people working in hotels and quite easy to manage in certain areas as having a seven day a week operation means it is feasible.

“However the shortage of staff in the marketplace have hindered this as people were signing up to a four-day week but then being called in at the last minute to fill the gaps.”

“Long before Covid-19 crippled its sector, the hotel and catering industry was struggling to attract chefs and industry professionals, mainly due to the low salaries and physical exertion required in many of the roles.

“To put it simply: People did not want to enter an industry that is so hands-on and physical while receiving a relatively low salary in comparison to other, similar laborious sectors.

“While uncertainty around the future of the industry may have had a role to play, in reality, the pre-existing work conditions and salaries were a huge factor, leading to a steady decline of chefs entering the sector.

“As a result, rates of pay from entry-level commis chefs all the way to chef de partie have increased to try to attract and retain talent.

“Overall, the staffing situation in hospitality is quite dire and there is no end in sight in the short to medium term for the industry.”

The survey also pointed to a trend concerning applications coming through jobs boards.

“What we’re seeing is that a client could receive 200 applications from a jobs board posting but, as with one client, 189 out of those 200 applicants came from outside the EU and had no chance of getting a visa, even if the skills that they had listed were a perfect match.

“At a time when the jobs boards are increasing their charges, the relevance of applications in many situations is lower than ever before.”

The recruitment experts say the Government has failed to address Stamp 2 visa issue — something which they contend, could go a long way to alleviate the pressure on employers to find the workforce needed.