Employing migrant workers


Case Study: Conran Restaurants

Conran Restaurants - this will open in a new window

Conran Restaurants


Conran Restaurants Ltd was founded by Sir Terence Conran and is now owned by the management team. The current group of 26 restaurants was started in 1989. Conran Restaurants is one of Britain's most dynamic restaurant groups, with restaurants in London, Paris, New York and Copenhagen.

Each restaurant is unique in terms of design, food and service. Each restaurant is run as an individual business, with the General Manager taking responsibility for the running of each site, with a high level of local responsibility. The restaurants are supported by a Head Office, with centralised functions such as finance and purchasing.

Job opportunities range from Front of House service and reservations staff to Restaurant and General Management, all Back of House positions from Apprentice Chief to Executive Chef plus administration and sales opportunities.

Values and Approach to employment policy

The Company offers the highest standards of service and quality of product to their customers. In order to do this, they depend on the quality of their staff for their success. Those who work within the restaurants are knowledgeable, passionate, committed and have the desire to consistently deliver exceptional customer service.

A career working for Conran Restaurants is an opportunity to work for one of the leading restaurant companies in the world.

With regards to recruitment and employment practices, Conran Restaurants have comprehensive policies and procedures on all relevant employment issues. These are supported by a knowledgeable Human Resources team. All policies are communicated to managers and staff, and are accessible at any time by all employees through the company's intranet system.

There is a comprehensive equal opportunities and dignity at work policy, and the Company employs an ethnically and culturally diverse workforce.

Business case/driver for employing non-UK nationals

For historic and cultural reasons, jobs in the restaurant industry will often attract non-UK nationals. Additionally, the skills and training required to take on some of the roles in the restaurant business at the quality and level demanded means that it is attractive to people from countries where the training for such skills is more widely available.

For these reasons, Conran Restaurants regularly receive and encourage applications from non-UK nationals. As a result of the restaurant employment market, Conran Restaurants has cultivated a vibrant, multi-cultural business.

Approach and lessons learned

Conran Restaurants has a zero tolerance policy on illegal working. Their policy on the prevention of illegal working is thorough, up to date and has been approved by specialist immigration lawyers. All its staff must have the legal right to work in the UK, in the position being offered, in order to take up a post.

All applicants are required to prove their legal right to work at the interview stage, and must provide original documentation for inspection by the restaurant Human Resources representative and local manager. If at any stage an employee loses their right to work in the UK, their contract is terminated immediately. Passports, visas and other documentation are regularly audited to ensure compliance with the regulations.

The Human Resources team and managers generally have become highly conversant with the requirements for checking the legality of visas and other documentation. They have worked with Home Office staff and the Police, through training sessions and utilising the Employer's Helpline, to develop their expertise in this area. This is supported by an investment in tools to aid the team in its detection of fraudulent documents e.g. U.V. lights and subscription to a website which has illustrations of all existing documents and the key points to check against. The Human Resources team provides guidelines and coaching in order to support Management in ensuring their workforce is legal. The Employers Helpline is a regular source of advice, and all new information is distributed across the company to ensure all Human Resources representatives and managers always have up to the minute knowledge.

Food for thought

Quotes from:

Holly Lowes-Bond, Human Resources Manager 'The common purpose behind Conran Restaurants is that we are committed to offering excellent quality, superb service and competitive prices in pleasant surroundings. To achieve this we require a highly skilled team of professionals. The hospitality industry faces severe shortfalls in the skills available within the labour market and we welcome all applicants who will work alongside us in reaching our goals. This has led us to develop an equal opportunities ethos supported by an investment to train both the operational and Human Resources teams in maintaining the standards required. Over the last 2 years my personal knowledge and that of my team has grown dramatically through taking a positive approach with the Home Office and Police and making the most of all opportunities to develop our skills further.'

Kim Chag Hoi, Quaglino's, St James', London
'I have a student visa and found it easy to get part time work at Quaglino's. I brought in all of my documents when I had my interview, I brought in my passport showing my student visa, and a letter from college confirming that I was enrolled there. The Executive Chef knew what the student visa was, and that I could work for 20 hours a week. I also showed my documents to our Human Resources Officer. The Executive Chef has been very flexible with my shifts, so I can fit my shifts around my college work. I have completed a Cuisine Diploma and am now completing a Pastry course, and have found that working at Quaglino's and getting valuable experience here is helping me with my studies.'

Magdalena Fatyga, Plateau, Canary Wharf, London
'Working for Plateau was no problem at all. As soon as I started I was given the forms and was given help in filling it in. My employers quickly gave me all the papers I needed to confirm my employment. Although I had to pay £70 for the certificate it's worth it as I know that if I work for Plateau for a year I can then work wherever I like. I received the certificate from the Home Office within a month after I started so things were very quick and I am now free to work at Plateau and enjoy living in London'.

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