Montmartre District in Paris is pictured. French businesses owners blamed president Macron's Covid furlough scheme for staff shortages, which allowed staff to stay at home on full pay during the pandemic
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European restaurants struggle to fill thousands of vacancies for waiters and cooks – as French hospitality bosses blame Macron’s furlough scheme that saw workers sit at home on FULL PAY

  • France has an estimated 250,000 vacancies in restaurants and cafes to fill
  • Europe is struggling to fill hundreds of thousands of staff vacancies 
  • The sector is buckling under pressure from staff shortages and a tourist influx 

Hundreds of thousands of vacancies are clogging up the hospitality sector across Europe as the industry struggles to cater for the increase in tourists.

France has an estimated 250,000 vacancies in restaurants and cafes, with businesses warning they are ill prepared for an influx of tourists in the summer now that Covid-19 restrictions have lifted.

French businesses owners blamed president Macron’s Covid furlough scheme, which allowed staff to stay at home on full pay during the pandemic.

The French president himself described it as the most generous scheme in Europe. But many never went back to the industry. 

Montmartre District in Paris is pictured. French businesses owners blamed president Macron's Covid furlough scheme for staff shortages, which allowed staff to stay at home on full pay during the pandemic

Montmartre District in Paris is pictured. French businesses owners blamed president Macron’s Covid furlough scheme for staff shortages, which allowed staff to stay at home on full pay during the pandemic

‘We’ve got applicants but they’re all students who have no experience and who only want to stay for the summer. So we’d have to train them, and once they’ve been trained, they’ll leave,’ said Georgio Benuzzi, 42, owner of Le Petit Josselin crêperie in the Montparnasse district of Paris.

He is planning to expand the dining area for his venue, he told The Times, wanting to add an additional 18 diners outside on top of the 36 places inside, but he is struggling to find waiters.

‘No one wants to work full time,’ he said. ‘One wants to do Monday lunchtimes but not Monday evenings, another doesn’t do Wednesdays. It’s really complicated.’

France’s unemployment rate hit 7.3 per cent, the lowest since 2008, with work available in other sectors.

Macron has said he is proud of his government’s emergency economic measures to support jobs during the pandemic, and highlighted a cut of unemployment from 9.6 per cent to 7.4 per cent.

President macron boasted of his unemployment as a key success of his presidency during the last election which saw him beat rival Marine le Pen.

But the success in lowering unemployment has meant a flux of younger workers who traditionally support the hospitality sector looking for opportunities elsewhere. 

Many job opportunities pay more than the €8.60 an hour minimum wage in hotels and restaurants.

In Italy, Massimo Bettoja, owner of the elegant Hotel Mediterraneo in Rome, spoke of similar concerns.

‘We called back the 100 staff we furloughed during Covid and 30 didn’t show up,’ he said. ‘Now we are full with bookings again we may be forced to cut capacity by 20 per cent to avoid poor service.’

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