Dear Business Friend

This petition is YOUR opportunity to tackle discriminatory Shortage Occupation rules that stop you from hiring Specialist Chefs from around the world.

Click this link to the petition
www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/169592

This petition tackles a significant area of Home Office rules that can become a game changer for thousands of restaurant businesses if amended. The petition’s aim is to remove the ‘take away service’ and ‘prepared in bulk’ clauses from the government’s Shortage Occupation criteria for Chefs which is preventing almost every restaurant in UK from accessing Specialist Chefs from around the world.

It will not completely solve the staffing crisis and some conditions within shortage occupation criteria may not suit everyone at first (ie. salary – which we can address), nevertheless it’s important that you be part of this action. There are related issues to tackle which we will also deal with shortly.

In the meantime please click the link and sign this petition, it takes less than a minute, all you do is type your name and email address, you will receive a link (please check junk mail / bin in case it goes there), please click the link so your signature is registered and you are counted.

This is YOUR petition, it has been created to help YOUR business, however this petition needs the participation of EVERYONE involved and connected to your business, your industry and ultimately your livelihood!  Please pass on the link or this email to as many people as possible ie. your customers, staff, business associates, trade associations, friends, and family. Have a laptop or iPad close by and PLEASE PLEASE gather as many signatures as possible. This petition needs at least 100,000 signatures BEFORE April 2017 to prompt a debate in parliament . Let’s double, treble, quadruple and beyond as this will compel the government to reconsider senseless rules that are damaging your business. Fight for YOUR business!  Fight for YOUR  industry!  Do this NOW for YOUR future benefit!

Background

Britain’s Asian restaurant industry is in crisis due to a targeted clampdown on Specialist Chefs from non EU countries conspired by government distortion and rejection of genuine skill needs.

The majority of UK’s estimated 30,000 Asian cuisine restaurants are experiencing a staffing crisis with many successful businesses no longer able to operate. Many are able to meet official salary stipulation but are blocked by senseless and underhanded government ruling. A recent Mintel report affirms that Asian restaurants must promote authenticity which suggests specialist skills are vital for sustainability and well as to remain specialist in the face of non specialist outlets imitating Asian cuisine. The report therefore points out authenticity as being a key factor behind popularity of Asian restaurants and equivalent take away sector. This is an undeniable truth of the need for skills. The Mintel report also states the following;

  • Authenticity is a core attribute when it comes to diners expectations of Asian restaurants
  • 78% of diners see the need for expert Chefs in Asian restaurants
  • Usage of Asian restaurants is high, with 81% having ordered take away or home delivery from a restaurant and 79% having eaten in one.
  • Home dining is growing faster and winning bigger share of consumer spend. Most sales are generated from restaurants offering collection and delivery services.
  • Wagamama launches biggest ever campaign to promote takeaway services.
  • The advent of online ordering and delivery platforms Just Eat and Deliveroo has massively engaged the restaurant industry in home dining, including high quality fine dining establishments.
  • This is substantial proof of evolving market demands.

A Home Office spokesman is quoted in a recent newspaper article as saying “We continue to welcome the very top chefs who promote innovative and authentic cuisine here in the UK — and these type of skilled cooks are on the shortage occupation list.” However this comment is disingenuous.

Though Specialist Chefs are on the government’s immigration Shortage Occupation List it disqualifies restaurants that do Take Away, Delivery, Buffet Dining, and Event Catering as NOT having sufficient specialist skill needs.

This means almost every fine dining restaurant and catering establishment in the country CANNOT employ migrant Chefs, even those already in UK on Shortage Occupation visas.  Practically every restaurant relies on collection or delivery customers and could not survive without this revenue, and besides it’s a standard customer expectation.

However, Home Office rules imply authentic individually prepared restaurant meals that are collected or delivered do NOT need skilled Chefs.

In other words an experienced Chef is skilled if the customer dines in the restaurant, but the same Chef is NOT skilled if the customer dines at home!

Thousands of restaurants and catering establishments in the UK have had their Sponsors Licences revoked and their Chefs facing deportation because of this nonsensical Home Office position.

The upsurge in home dining thanks to organisations such as Just Eat, Hungry House, Kukd.com and Deliveroo has been a lifeline in generating extra sales.

However the Home Office in its quest to reduce from non EU countries has placed commercially destructive rules aimed at blocking urgently needed Chefs to fuel this demand. The Asian restaurant sector is generating hundreds of millions of pounds of additional VAT revenue and trading transparency due to increasing take away sales through the successful advent of online/smartphone ordering, however government policy is stifling this.

It beggars belief that many businesses have been penalised by having their sponsor licences revoked simply because collection and delivery, thereby resulting in loss of salaried skilled Chefs (who consequently face deportation).

The Home Office also asserts multi cuisine buffet dining and events catering where complex recipe dishes are centrally produced (or produced on premises in quantity) as NOT meeting skilled Chef criteria as they do not serve individually cooked meals, even though greater skill, dexterity and experience is needed when producing multiple portions and large quantities (See immigration rules extract below).

Buffet and event catering are classed as being ‘fast food’ and ‘standard fare’ and thereby disqualified from accessing Chefs under the ‘Shortage Occupation’ criteria.  According to this ruling renowned Michelin starred and AA Rosette Chefs who cater for functions and events are deemed NOT skilled enough and NOT having sufficient skill needs. Can you imagine the reaction from Gordon Ramsey (of ‘F’ word fame) if told if he or his non EU Specialist Chef (if he has or had one) was not skilled enough or that his business did not have sufficient skill needs?

The terms ‘fast food’ and ‘standard fare’ as in immigration rules applies to any form of volume production and thereby rules out Development / Technical / Consultant Chefs needed in the food manufacturing industry.

Areas where high calibre technically skilled Chefs are in great need are denigrated by Home Office skills assessment.  One of the areas severely affected has been the traditional Indian Sweetmeat or Mithai sector. Halwai (Mithai) Chefs are unique culinary craftsmen who produce classic intricate celebratory delicacies for auspicious occasions, festivals, and rituals for UK’s wide ranging Asian population.  However the lack of skills transfer from a diminishing and irreplaceable Halwai Chef community means this profession will become extinct if skills can’t be imported. The government’s policy of blocking the importation of culturally innate skills is contradictory to its assertion of a multicultural society.

We are not advocating all your staffing needs be met solely by overseas Chefs. We believe your industry cannot be wholly dependent on imported labour and must address basic skill needs within the UK labour market. This is why we are working on a nationwide Training & Development programme and devising a National Curry Apprenticeship scheme to create Curry, Tandoori and Pan Asian Chefs.

However no internal measure will totally remove the need for skill ready top Chefs and culinary experts from around the world. More importantly these Chefs are needed to act as trainers and mentors in order to create home grown Chefs. The government must realise there is a severe shortage of creative skills and a lack of innate culinary flair from a training and development perspective. The Shortage Occupation route must therefore be fair, realistic and accessible within reason. Our aim is to help you fill up to two thirds of vacancies in your industry through UK generated labour providing we can access at least one third from around the world. Our aim is to group skills needs into 3 areas where the top area would be filled with internationally sourced Chefs. We invite you tell us what vacancies you have so we can determine and advise accordingly. This will help support your industry’s case as in the proportion of jobs you have available for the UK labour market in relation to overseas. Please fill in the vacancy form on www.goldstarchefs.co.uk.

Businesses are NOT seeking to add to immigration numbers as only a temporary work visa route is sought.

Past work related immigration policies have proved ineffective and counter productive. Granting automatic settlement with immediate access to state income after 5 years on work visa has been a ruinous policy which has seen almost every sponsored Chef resign immediately upon gaining settlement. The ease of access to undeclared employment which enables eligibility to ‘in work’ benefits has been the main cause of post settlement labour drain that has plunged the industry into a staffing crisis.

Despite offering attractive salaries and working conditions businesses simply can’t compete with a rival undeclared jobs and labour market inadvertently boosted by Home Office policies.

Supply and demand issues forces many employers to pay state sponsored settled workers inflated tax free incomes, and many cases provide free accommodation or simply have no Chefs in their kitchens. The government’s settlement policy has spawned a transient, fickle, manipulative and out of control settled labour culture that is exploiting employers. Many simply cannot cope with difficulties experienced in resourcing and retaining UK settled Chefs. Almost every business operator reports scarcity in numbers, wildcat poaching by competing employers, lack of skills, disinterest in creativity and refusing fully declared salaried employment .

A modicum of imported labour on a temporary basis would act as a competitive lever to dissuade UK settled workers from making illicit demands and take up formalised employment.

Applied judiciously a measure of short term imported skilled labour can be a strategic mechanism in minimising its need in the long term. Allowing a competitive trickle of international Chefs would spur a renewed interest in the jobs market from UK settled Chefs.

The weight and burden of bureaucracy involved in employing Chefs under immigration control is harsh, bewildering and can be overwhelming, however many businesses are having no choice but to go down this route. The government appears oblivious to the contribution to the state by specialist non EU sponsored workers as their employment is fully tax paying with no recourse to public funds, compared to most UK settled workers in this sector who are state aided and therefore a burden.

The Home Office are in disarray in their interpretation of skills and cack handed enforcement of ruinous counter- productive rules.

These rules are killing an otherwise successful multi billion pound sector which is a major player in Britain’s booming service industry.

Ethnic diversity as in food culture is being seriously undermined in the quest to reduce immigration. Having had no control over EU immigration the Home Office have become contemptuous towards every hard pressed business that has a need for skills from around the world.

Many Home Office officials question why your industry is not tapping into supposedly ‘hundreds of millions’ of available workers inside EU. This is a completely ignorant and irrational view.

Firstly Asian cuisine establishments in EU countries is sparse in comparison to UK and thereby scant presence or availability of UK calibre Chefs.  There are nevertheless tens of thousands of potential Chefs in EU countries with innate capability and eager to fill our vacancies, however (unbeknown to many Home Office compliance officers) government restrictions block entry to EU residents because they are not EU nationals.  The hospitality industry at large has been enriched by the influx of East Europeans however these people do not have the skills, innate qualities nor desire to becoming Curry or Tandoori Chefs, or Pan Asian / Oriental Chefs.

In spite of efforts to date Asian restaurateurs have been unsuccessful in engaging East European workers other than in low skill tasks. Creating authentic ethnic cuisine means an inevitable reliance on culturally orientated Chefs.

As for generating home grown Chefs this is absolutely necessary but cannot happen instantly. It takes at least 3 to 5 years training and work experience to create a reasonably competent Chef. There has to be a desire to enter or remain working in the profession with a willingness to work evenings and weekends.

Contrary to Home Office view one cannot force a Brit, East European, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese to work for you if that person does not want become a Chef regardless of training and salary offered.  It is also patronising to imply a mobilisation of Britain’s Asians into becoming Chefs just because they happen to populate the country.

As is prevalent throughout the hospitality industry even highly skilled high paying jobs such as Chefs are shunned by a fickle and unperturbed state supported UK labour market. It is thought at least half if not more of the workers in UK’s hospitality industry such as in hotels, restaurants and coffee shops are recent East European migrants. They are simply here to do the jobs that much of the indigenous UK population choose not to do.

The skill needs of the UK’s huge Asian restaurant and catering industry fall into the same demographics in relative terms.

Current government policy and policy enforcement is a cynical attack on a chronically overtasked and chronically under resourced business community that has an inevitable reliance on international expertise and skills. It is a pity that a successful industry that employs hundreds thousands of people directly and indirectly and estimated to generate over £5 billion in sales (therefore £1 billion in vat revenue) is treated with such contempt.

YOUR INDUSTRY MUST THEREFORE DEMAND IMMEDIATE ABOLITION OF UNFAIR AND DAMAGING RULES THAT ARE PREVENTING ACCESS TO URGENTLY NEEDED CHEFS!!  PLAY YOUR PART IN SAVING YOUR INDUSTRY, YOUR BUSINESS, YOUR LIVELIHOOD AND YOUR FUTURE BY SIGNING THE PETITION BELOW

Click this link to sign the petition:
www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/169592

For an overview of recruitment in your industry please go to

Extract from Appendix K of immigration rules

(as at 7th April 2016)

SOC Code 5434 –

Skilled chef where  the pay is at least £29,570 per year after deductions for accommodation, meals etc; and the job requires five or more years relevant experience in a role of at least equivalent status to the one they are entering; and the job is not in either a fast food outlet, a standard fare outlet, or an establishment which provides a take-away service; A fast food outlet is one where food is prepared in bulk for speed of service, rather than to individual order. A standard fare outlet is one where the menu is designed centrally for outlets in a chain / franchise, rather than by a chef or chefs in the individual restaurant. Standard fare outlets also include those where dishes and / or cooking sauces are bought in ready-made, rather than prepared from fresh / raw ingredients.

www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-k-shortage-occupation-list

Click this link to sign the petition:
www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/169592

ps. Please feel free to contact Hans Raj Ram, Goldstar Chefs CEO on
07774 689708 or email hans@goldstarchefs.co.uk to discuss this or any matter relating to recruitment issues you may have now or in the near future.