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"Paying low - feeling low?" Investigating the impact of low-paid wages upon the socio-economic status of migrants.

"Paying low - feeling low?" Investigating the impact of low-paid wages upon the socio-economic status of migrants.
Author: Vadim Gruzdev
1 Commentries
Abstract: The aim of this discussion paper is to investigate the socio-economic situation of migrants working in British hospitality industry and identify the negative effects of low-paid salary upon these working migrants. This paper considers underlining the challenges that migrants are currently confronting by being stigmatized as 'foreigner" and also labeled as "low-paid" individuals. The results will be achieved by conducting a secondary research.

Key words: migrants, low-paid salary, hospitality industry, socio-economic status, challenges.

Hospitality industry, as well as the entire sector of tourism have been constantly facing a number of challenges that cause anxious environment for the management teams running these businesses. Some of these critical problems are high rates of staff turnover, a lack of full-time, all year around employees, a negative image of the industry perceived by the potential employees (including students), a vast number of migrants, occupational gender segregation, gender pay gap, lack of highly qualified workforce and low paid wages. (Bahcelerli & Sucuoglu, 2015)

Low paid wages seem to be completely neglected by the tourism industry corporations. And this topic has been repeatedly brought up into a pivotal attention by the politicians only (London Assembley, 2016), rather than the hospitality industry representatives or labor unions of tourism sector. For another consecutive year, the jobs in hospitality industry have been remarked by the lowest paid wages in U.K., despite the fact that the tourism and hospitality industry are seeing a constant growth in revenue and development expansion. (People1st, 2016) Another important aspect of this situation involves the migrants who are engaged in the biggest part of executing the lowest paid occupations in hospitality: as serving, housekeeping, working at the bar, etc. (People1st, 2016) It is important to pinpoint that being already in an unacquainted habitat drags a diversity of problems and unsecure bearings of the migrants related to the new place. And desperately relying on the low-paid jobs as the unique sources of living burden another multiplicity of troubles for migrants. (Baum, 2007)

The secondary research of this discussion paper focuses on a combination of the social aspects of the human resources activity in hospitality, tackling chiefly the research of Baum T. (Baum, 2007) and the psychological aspects of mental health under the low-paid wages investigated by Meltzer H. N. (Meltzer, et al., 2002). Other sources were also being regarded in order to confirm, to explain and to develop the description of the received results.

According to People1st Report, currently there are 38% of 'hard-to-fill' vacancies in tourism and hospitality businesses. This phenomenon might affect even greatly this industry in the upcoming decade. Since the rates of unemployment have already decreased in double and the demographic level of the U.K. staying stable, it evidences a future lack of personnel members for these businesses. And the main reason that sways this consequence are the low salaries. (People1st, 2016) Apparently, the low pay defines the demanding impetus for acquiring the necessary workforce in industry. As it is mentioned hitherto, at the moment the migrants are exposed to accepting this impetus, that evidently affect their socio-economic status.

Low-income individuals encounter huge difficulties in many aspects of their lifestyle and habitual activities. The comprehensive work of Wilcox B. W. indicates that low wage earners are more likely to retreat from marriage that leads to single parenthood, instability of the family climate, social and economic disadvantages of the partners and their children, etc. and that will inevitably contribute to unstable development of the individuals within these economic group. (Wilcox, 2015)' Meltzer H. N., also indicated that there is direct connection between low-income individuals and mental health problems. In his research he shows that the low-income individuals are feeling labeled by the society that leads to their social exclusion. Also, he states that the lowest income employees have twice probability to confront mental health issues. (Meltzer, et al., 2002)

In conclusion, it can be stated that low paid salary affects drastically the socio-economic conditions of the individuals. And this factor explains the high staff turnover and unoccupied positions in hospitality and tourism industry. It also underlines the harsh circumstances under which the migrants have to adopt the new flow of their lives.

Reference List:

Bahcelerli, N. M. & Sucuoglu, E., 2015. Undergraduate Tourism Students' Opinions Regarding the Work Conditions in the Tourism Industry. Procedia Economics and Finance, Volume 26, pp. 1130-1135.

Baum, T., 2007. Human resources in tourism: Still waiting for change. Tourism Management, 28(6), pp. 1383-1399.

London Assembley, 2016. Hospitality sector needs to up workers' wages. [Online]
Available at: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/assembly/hospitality-sector-needs-to-up-workers-wages
[Accessed 09 05 2018].

Meltzer, H. N., Bebbington, P., Brugha, T. & Jenkins , R., 2002. The social and economic circumstances of adults with mental disorders. London: TSO.

People1st, 2016. Migrant workers in the hospitality and tourism sector and the potential impact of labour restrictions. [Online] Available at: https://www.tmi.org.uk/files/documents/resources/people-1st-brexit-report-aug2016.pdf
[Accessed 09 05 2018].

Wilcox, B. W., 2015. Challenges Facing Low-Income Individuals and Families in Today's Economy. [Online]
Available at: https://ifstudies.org/blog/challenges-facing-low-income-families [Accessed 01 05 2018].

Commentary on "Paying low - feeling low?" Investigating the impact of low-paid wages upon the socio-economic status of migrants.
Author: Eliska Studena
This research paper discusses a very interesting topic of the socio-economic situation of the migrant labour in the tourism and hospitality industry in the UK. It further states and evaluates some of the challenges which the immigrants might be facing, specifically being labelled as ‘low-paid’ or ‘foreign’ workforce. This research paper was chosen for the commentary, as this topic is close to what I have discussed in my work, therefore I was interested to gain more knowledge about a similar field.

Firstly, this paper talks about the problems and unattractiveness of the employment in the tourism and hospitality sector addressed as an ‘anxious environment’, which is said to have led to labour shortages and lack of full-time employees in this sector. Even though this is an interesting evaluation, according to Janta (2011) the tourism and hospitality industry is actually a very popular and desired field, especially for the migrant workers. The nature of this sector itself is believed to be the one of the main reasons why the migrants seek jobs in this industry, along with the accessibility and comprehensive understanding of required skills needed for working in this sector (Janta, 2011). Moreover, Piso (2014) even claims that the migrants became the preferred workforce in the hospitality sector and are often favoured over the national employees.

Furthermore, the author points out a curious finding that there might be a direct connection between working for minimal wages and often mental health issues of the migrant workers. Brownett (2018) as well identifies this to be one of the factors of the mental health issues of the migrant labour, however she also addresses other aspects which could lead to health problems. Some of the factors which might be affecting the mental health of immigrants could include loss of personal and social identity, language barrier, homesickness, loss of social support and network, overwhelming pressure to make money and meet the demands of the boss, too many working hours, fear of losing the job, discrimination, bullying and so on (Brownett, 2018). While the low wages are definitely one of the apparent reasons for frequent mental health issues among the migrant labour, there are definitely other vital factors, which need to be considered.

In my discussion paper, which also deals with the experience and challenges of the migrant labour, I have looked mainly at the point of view of the migrants, however it also stated some challenges from the perspective of the employers. In my opinion, the researcher might also look at the migrant challenges from other point of view, in order to enrich the discussion and further evaluate the topic. This might be an interesting addition to this paper and something which could be further researched.

Brownett, T. (2018) Role of occupational health in migrant workers' health. Personnel Today. Available from https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/role-occupational-health-migrant-workers-health/ [Accessed 18 May 2018].

Janta, H. (2011) Polish migrant workers in the UK hospitality industry: Profiles, work experience and methods for accessing employment. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 23(6), 803-820.

Piso, A. (2014) Migrant Labour in Rural Tourism: Continuity and Change. International Journal of Tourism Research, 18(1), 10-18.