Indian restaurants raise concern about new minimum salary demands

14 Jul 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Curry restaurants in the UK are concerned they will be hit by the Government’s changes to salary requirements for non-EU workers in the UK.

The Indian press is warning that high numbers of Indian chefs working in the sector will be forced to return to India because they do not earn the minimum salary of £35,000 required if they want leave to remain in the UK on a work permit.

The changes will affect those who have come to Britain on a visa since 2011 when the new salary requirement comes into force in April next year.

The Indian restaurant industry in the UK is worth £3.2 billion a year and many outlets depend on the traditional skills of Indian-born talented chefs.

Dharmesh Lakhani, who chairs the Belgrave Business Association in Leicester and runs Bobby’s restaurant, said it was not realistic to expect businesses to pay £35,000 salaries to chefs.

He said: “For me, as a restaurateur, the changes will affect the quality of Indian food across the UK. There might be some larger London-based businesses which can afford to pay £35,000 for a head chef, but not your traditional high street restaurant. Across the country, standards will go down if that becomes the case.”

He said that children of Indian chefs did not want to follow their parents’ career paths and were choosing other jobs. Plus, he said they standard of training in the UK is not as high as in India, where cooking skills are taught from a young age – something he believes cannot be replicated in college.

The warning from the Indian restaurant sector comes after nursing groups and technology businesses said the new salary demands would cause a shortage of people and skills in their industries.

The changes are part of the Government’s efforts to reduce the net migration figure.