Many staff members from overseas have returned to their home countries while others have cited wanting a change in lifestyle when leaving the pub trade.
The shortage comes as businesses are desperate to recruit more staff to comply with Covid-19 requirements such as table service and storing guests’ contact details.
Pierre Needham, head chef at the Teatro restaurant in Gloucestershire, said he has boosted wages for roles by £2,000 to £3,000 but this hasn’t been a “fix.”
“We aren’t able to recruit any staff as there are none to be had,” he explained, pointing to Brexit as one reason.
He added: "Hospitality has seen droves of staff leave the sector during Covid simply because they've had a taste of the good life - hours limited to 45 a week, evenings and weekends off, overtime etc."
The business has boosted salaries for current staff to “reward their extra hard work” but also to “stop them being poached from elsewhere,” Needham said.
“Agencies are contacting anyone who's anyone on LinkedIn and other media platforms, which is resulting in key staff leaving various roles, but the actual demand is for the less skilled workers - kitchen porters, commis chefs, chef de parties, of which there are simply none.
“[Hospitality] was always an unsustainable model,” he added, “you must pay people what they are worth."
Elaine Wrigley, joint managing director at Atlas Bar in Deansgate, Manchester, said she has always paid above minimum wage and pays staff the same regardless of their age.
She said: “We took the decision to raise our team's wages and salaries, in recognition of their continued hard work and loyalty, post lockdown. It has also supported us recruiting new team members.
“It does mean increased costs, but we firmly believe that an engaged team, who feel valued, will deliver even better service for our customers.
“Wages are important, but we take the teams well-being equally seriously, and have worked hard to support as much as we can, in this space, too.”
A number of operators told The Morning Advertiser they were unable to give staff a pay hike due to high ongoing costs while trading was down thanks to pandemic rules.
The average wages of pub and restaurant workers have risen by as much as 14%, according to data from jobs marketplace Indeed Flex.
According to Indeed Flex’s data, weekday pay rates have seen an average increase of 5% across the UK.
Pay increases have varied around the country, with Greater Manchester and Cheshire experiencing the biggest boosts.
A UKHospitality survey found 80% of hospitality operators reported vacancies for front of house roles and 85% needed chefs.
The survey of hundreds of hospitality operators suggested a current sector-wide vacancy rate of 9%, implying a shortage of 188,000 workers.