The ever-present question of loyalty has become more prominent over the past few years with Covid-19 creating havoc in the employment sector, in particular with expats that were on a limited term contract.
During recent interviews with candidates, many felt a strong sense of disappointment with their current/past employers who had completely abandoned them during the pandemic, with many still having outstanding employment and salary payments.
There seems to be a strong trend by large international chains to simply say, the owners haven’t paid us so we can’t pay you, or we don’t pay the salary, this is the responsibility of the property owner. So where does that leave the expat GM, Chef or F&B Manager?
I recall two such recent cases, where the expat employee was not paid his salary for six months, before being told that his employment was terminated. Now, nine months after his departure, this individual is still owed his money. The international hotel management companies’ response? Sorry to hear this, but not our problem…
What are his options? Hire a lawyer that takes more of his money before even getting started or fighting his way through the local bureaucracy in some foreign country where often the local justice system is questionable, at best.
So what about loyalty?
When an expatriate signs up with a large international company he assumes that he is joining a stable and trustworthy employer. At very least, he assumes that said company have completed their due diligence regarding the stability and ethical behaviour of the property owner. What our expat does not expect is to be cut adrift when things get difficult.
Obviously, in the western world where there is strong employment legislation it is a little different, but there appears to be a different set of rules in some countries. Parts of Asia, the Maldives and Middle East seem to be some of the worst culprits, and are where many of the recent experiences outlined, have occurred. Here many expats keep on working even though they are not paid for months and months, hoping it will sort itself out one day soon.
It is amazing to see how much PR is conducted by companies in the media, and on LinkedIn etc, advising how much they care for their employees, and also the handwringing, should a trusted employee jump ship to better themselves. Not much is heard of the negative side, when staff are not paid their salaries or, as in one case that comes to mind, was not reimbursed relocation expenses even though it was stipulated in his contract. Did the management company fix this and pay? Well, “so sorry to hear that, but we can’t help as this is an owner’s issue and we don’t want to upset them by pressing the matter.”
Occurrences like this show that the major players in the hospitality industry still have a long way to go to be employers of substance.
We always recommend potential employees complete their own due diligence on both the management company and property owners before taking the leap of faith. The internet is a great research tool for those prepared to dig a little, and questionable employers may certainly have a footprint on the internet, even when excluding the sour grapes of the odd disgruntled employee.
The recent pandemic may possibly have set apart the good from the bad employers, but certainly, it is important to remember that loyalty goes both ways. All parties should reflect on balancing the short-term benefits with the long-term gains that can be achieved by operating ethically.
And just maybe, it would be a good idea to tell potential employees that their salary will be paid by the owners and not the management company before they start their employment…
Let us know your stories, either in the comments or by DM and we may cover this again in a later article.
About the Author
Karl Faux is a veteran Hotelier and Managing Partner with Elite Search – a leading hospitality recruitment firm.