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Restaurants struggle to provide service as employee shortage hits

CM 29/04/2021


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While Jerusalem’s restaurants seem to have come back to life in April as pandemic fears wane, the lack of workers available presents a serious threat to an industry that is fragile and hurting after a year of limited business.”It is very hard to find workers now, because of the Halat (unpaid furlough) benefits the government has guaranteed through the end of June,” said Uriel, manager of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf cafe on Jaffa Street in the center of town. “Our old workers are staying home, and we can’t find new workers. We have only 20% of the staff we need, and that hurts the business. We can’t serve everyone properly, and we lose customers because we can’t handle the business. It’s a big problem for us.”As the economy reopens due to the success of the vaccination campaign, businesses are looking to hire in record numbers, only to find that workers – especially in low-skilled fields – aren’t interested. The emergency coronavirus safety net that the government enacted last year guaranteed Halat benefits amounting to about 70% of income through the end of June, and many are happy to enjoy their unpaid vacation as long as they can.A report published Thursday by the Central Bureau of Statistics said that nearly 30% of people receiving Halat benefits refuse to return to work, with most saying that the money they are receiving from the government doesn’t make it worthwhile. Some 60% of those declining to go back to work were employed in food-service industries, the report said, at a time when the number of available restaurant positions has nearly doubled.It is not yet clear what sort of benefit packages will await job-seekers after June 30. Israel Employment Services is encouraging the Finance Ministry to adopt a more limited model, with different benefit rates according to age and family status, time limits, and proper employment evaluations.In the meantime, the day after June 30 is a ticking time bomb, with many worried about what might happen when thousands suddenly decide it is time to reenter the job market.”I think many people will find themselves without a job come July 1. A lot of the best jobs are already taken,” said Amit Shechter, owner of the Nocturno Cafe in central Jerusalem. “I can understand why people would want to stay on Halat, but working gives a person vitality. It’s not good to stay home.”

Shechter said that rebuilding his restaurant’s kitchen workers, waitresses, and managers has been very difficult. “I didn’t sleep for two weeks thinking about it,” he said.”Eventually, I contacted people who have worked with us in the past, asking them to show up for ‘miluim’ (reserve duty) for a few weeks while I could put together a staff,” Shechter said. “Fortunately, this is a popular place to work, and people have been interested- although only three of our thirty waitresses from last year came back. We’ve been able to hire 20 more people, so we are at about 70% capacity right now. We haven’t raised our salary, but we know how to keep our employees happy. We’re still looking to hire more.”Meanwhile, Reuven Beiser, owner of the popular Mike’s Place bar and grill in the center of Jerusalem, had a somewhat different take on the situation.”I think a lot of the talk about workers not coming back because of Halat is more of a Tel Aviv phenomenon,” Beiser said. There has been a dramatic exodus of young people to the center to Tel Aviv, and as such, we always have trouble hiring here in Jerusalem. What’s helping us now is the reopening of the universities means there are people available for part-time work. Halat was irrelevant to them. Of the workers we sent for Halat, all of them have returned except for those whose lives went in a different direction. I actually have workers who were excited to come back to work instead of staying on Halat a few more months.””It is true that restaurants in Jerusalem are also struggling to bring back workers from Halat, but it’s more affecting fancier restaurants needing a higher skill level,” Beiser continued. “I can’t afford now to hire 100% of what we had last year, so I’m looking to hire good people to work at 60-80%. We’ve had a nice return of customers, mostly young people, but we work very heavily with tourists, so until that comes back, businesses in the center of town won’t be thriving.”As the days go by, many are concerned that precious time and resources are simply being wasted.”I think most of these people on Halat are sitting at home, enjoying their vacation,” Uriel said. “Maybe a small percentage are working on a startup or something like that, but most are wasting time. They should go out and work.”
Source: Jerusalem Post

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The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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