Guernsey

Herm boss warns 'paradise' not immune from Brexit

Aerial shot of Herm Image copyright Jonathan Le Ray
Image caption Herm sits three miles east of Guernsey and is the fifth largest Channel Island

Working on a tiny "paradise" island is becoming less attractive because of Brexit, its hospitality director has warned.

Car-free Herm boasts crystal clear seas but uncertainty over EU workers' future rights and a weak pound is putting Europeans off, staff say.

The privately-owned Channel Island is not in the EU and has a year-round population of 60.

But the tourist island needs 100 staff for its hotel, pub and campsite.

EU workers can live on the 2 sq km (0.77 sq miles) island without restriction but those wanting to live in the Channel Islands after Brexit will be subject to a settlement scheme, similar to the UK's.

"The Brexit uncertainty is not helping. We're losing an awful lot of our Eastern European hospitality professionals," hospitality director Craig Senior said.

"It's tough. I think it's tough on Herm, it's tough on Guernsey - I think it's tough in the hospitality industry across the UK."

Image copyright Visit Guernsey
Image caption Herm's main tourist season is between April and October, when it requires the bulk of its staff
Image copyright Visit Guernsey
Image caption The island's only hotel, The Whitehouse, has 40 rooms and usually opens between April and October

Herm employs up to 100 people in peak season, and is currently seeking kitchen, waiting, housekeeping and beach kiosk staff.

Hotel manager Robert Letherbarrow acknowledged isolated island life was not for everyone, and often involved long working hours.

After struggling for staff in 2018, a recent publicity drive saw nearly 200 applications for island hotel roles, but with few candidates from EU countries.

"Normally it's Europe, this year it's all over the world," Mr Letherbarrow said.

That would mean more paperwork, he said, as additional residency applications would need to be completed for non-EU staff.

Image copyright Visit Guernsey
Image caption Herm staff also have responsibility for a dairy heard, which is not milked but grazes to help clear the island's grassland
Image copyright Krzysz Janiak
Image caption Chef Krzysz Janiak says uncertainty around Brexit has led to many of his fellow Polish workers leaving the UK

Herm's new head chef is one EU worker who has taken the plunge on island life, recently moving from London with his wife and two children.

"The place is amazing. Herm is like a small paradise," Krzysz Janiak said.

On Brexit, he feels his future is marginally more secure in the islands: "No-one knows what's going to happen, we don't know what's going to happen in England, and here in Guernsey," he said.

Image caption Herm is leased from neighbouring Guernsey's government

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