Coronavirus hits hospitality sector as healthcare recruiters gear up

Recruiters in the hospitality sector are reeling from the cancellation of events across the country as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

However, it was too soon to say whether Covid-19 would lead to a boost in demand for the services of healthcare recruiters.

With the BBC reporting, as of Monday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had reached 319, Recruiter spoke to agency leaders about how the outbreak was affecting their businesses.

Kate McCarthy-Booth, managing director at McCarthy Recruitment, a retail staffing specialist with some exposure to hospitality, told Recruiter she hadn’t seen a big impact but did know it was coming.

“I do know somebody in sporting recruitment that’s experiencing it. They’re on the temp side for sporting events…

“Across some clients we have seen a bit of a reticence to interview but that’s it. Things are continuing for us but we’re not only just in that space. It’s only about 20% and they’re normal high street vacancies as opposed to events.

“I’m not seeing it in restaurants. We do a bit in cinemas and bowling [venues] and they’re just carrying on as normal.”

However, Ed Vokes, MD at Evolve Hospitality, told Recruiter in a statement: “We are feeling the ripple effect of the coronavirus within the hotel sector and the decline in consumer confidence, but together with our safeguarding policies, we will remain dedicated to our service ethos and will continue to support our clients in the best possible way to ensure their business continuality during this uncertain period and in partnership, will monitor the everchanging situation.”

Paul McQue, MD at healthcare recruiter MPA Recruitment, said it was too early to say whether the virus would lead to an increase in demand for its services.

“We haven’t noticed an increase in demand but we haven’t noticed a decrease in demand either. Our staffing numbers, as a result of staff falling ill or whatever – we’re talking less than five of 1,300 each week, at this moment in time, who have self-isolated.

“We payroll around 1,200 to 1,300 people each week. We’ve had one or two people who have come back from Italy, and one came back from Thailand. They were self-isolating until they were ready to be tested, and they both came back negative.

“We’ve followed quite closely the government information that’s been released but we, as a company, have had to release documentation to our temporary employees as well as our permanent staff, and put contingency plans into place in the worst case scenario that some of our branches need to close. Things like laptops, work from home, continuous running of the branches once the branches have closed…”

Dr Andrew Harborne, director at healthcare staffing specialist Harborne Medical Resourcing, and himself an NHS doctor, told Recruiter: “I’ve not noticed any difference. It’s obviously talked about but I’ve not noticed too much to be honest.

“I do foresee if there are a lot of cases then that is going to put an awful lot of demand on the health service. So right now I don’t think there is much change, but if we’re in a situation such as Italy, then I think there will be an increase in demand.”

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