Recommendations contained in the Taylor Review into employment practices could create an “administrative nightmare” for hospitality operators at a time when margins are already being squeezed, a leading lawyer has warned.

Kirsty Rogers, an executive partner in retail, food and hospitality at DWF, told MCA a move towards making casual workers contracted employers would place a significant burden on businesses, amid a flurry of employment regulations and economic headwinds. 

Rogers said the review did provide some necessary clarity on employment law, and said some regulation was necessary for instance in giving delivery couriers in the gig economy greater employment rights.

But she said casual work and zero hours contracts were sometimes useful in the high turnover hospitality sector, for both employers and workers seeking flexibility, with additional paperwork potentially detracting from efforts to improve staff retention.

Rogers, who said it was unlikely the recommendations from the review would be introduced in the short term, said any implemention could create a perfect storm of regulation, following the introduction the National Living Wage, new rules on holiday pay, and equal pay and gender pay.

She told MA: “Zero hours contracts have been vilified, but lots of businesses in the sector have made use of them, and some workers such as students are keen to use them.

“The government is suggesting an amendment, which signals a move towards a more employed and regularised sector.

“Given the transient nature of many people within the industry and the turnover with bar staff, that’s going to create an administrative nightmare and make things more challenging in a sector which is already in quite tight margins.

“It creates a significantly increased burden, and that in itself erodes margins. When you’re trying to engage staff, paperwork doesn’t seem like a good thing.”

Rogers said employment cases surrounding the likes of Deliveroo and Uber had come about due a combination of a lack of clarity on employment status, the emergence of new technology, and a desire to be more flexible with working practices.

She said: “All of a sudden you’ve got some people who aren’t getting enough pay, and it’s only fair to give some workers more rights.

“However there also a lot of people who don’t want to be employed.

“What business should do is give people a choice.

”You don’t want to destroy an industry, but you have got have a balance with workers’ rights.”