Goodbye to the British Seasonaire. Barring an 11-hour respite, Europe’s ski resorts will soon be devoid of British seasonal workers.
Starting on January 1, after Brexit, British employees looking for seasonal work as chalet hosts, instructors, drivers and babysitters at European ski resorts will have a harder time finding work.
“It’s game over unless the government reaches an agreement with the EU that means there is a way for British staff to work across Europe in the tourism industry in seasonal jobs,” said Charles Owen, Business Director of Seasonal Travel (SBiT) representing many vacation companies.
The trade body says up to 25,000 British seasonal jobs will be lost in the travel industry, many of them hired by UK-based companies.
Currently, under the EU ‘posted workers’ directive, any UK company can assign staff to positions in other EU member states. Staff have UK contracts, pay UK taxes and national insurance, and under existing freedom of movement rules do not need a work permit or immigration visa.
“Unfortunately, when the Brexit transition agreements end, all of that ends,” Owen said. “In the future, if a British company wants to hire British chalet or bar staff, it will need to obtain a work permit in, say, France, to show that a French person could not do that job by advertising in an unemployment office for eight weeks to show that no one wants to request it; then go through a minimum process of two to three months to obtain a work permit; and then, once they have it, the worker must apply for an immigration visa to enter the country, which means that it will not happen ”.
The travel industry has been warning about the threat to British workers for more than two years. But it was believed that this ski season would largely function as if the UK remained part of the EU.
Under existing arrangements, UK staff working at the resorts before 31 December can remain in their posts for the entire 2020-21 ski season. However, Covid has thrown a big key in the works as a second wave of lockdowns are rolled out across Europe.
“The chances of a ski season starting in December are decreasing by the day,” Owen said. “So companies have an unenviable option: do they bring in staff, take risks, and hope they can put them on some kind of licensing scheme? Or don’t you take them out and wait? It’s a real nightmare. “
SBiT has launched a online petition to save jobs that are supported by many in the industry. “As someone who has worked in the ski industry for 30 years, it is heartbreaking to see the impact, lost opportunities and the end of so many dreams,” said Dan Fox, managing director of SkiWeekends. “We have thousands of applications for these roles: young people from all walks of life. Every year we have staff who have not even skied but have the right attitude. We employ people we believe will be successful, we don’t care about qualifications. “
Fox said he had made many friends in his 30 years in the ski industry. “And, having spent more than half abroad, I know the life-changing impact. Many of those who said ‘I’m only doing a season’ ended up as a senior manager in the UK. Many have created their own businesses and, between us, we have created thousands of jobs, taking people on vacation and making them happy. “
Rob Stewart, who runs a public relations firm representing many companies in the industry, started as a ski instructor in the Alps 25 years ago.
“What worries me most is the idea that ski vacations will become the exclusive right of the super rich. People like me, from very normal backgrounds, from families that weren’t used to going on a ski vacation, were pursuing a dream of working abroad and making money doing something we love. I managed to make a career out of it, like thousands of other people. Brexit is potentially taking away those opportunities. “
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.