“Doing a Season” has long been a right of passage for many an adventurous fun-loving Brit, not only during their younger years, but also for those who have made a career out of the wonders that season-long mountain life has to offer.
Because of Brexit, this has now changed. Our right to work freely in the EU no longer remains. And the future of being able to do a season in 2021/22 (and beyond) remains doubtful.
Since the UK’s decision to leave the EU, ski tour operators have been battling endlessly to secure the future of their British run operation in The Alps. Despite the incredible efforts by everyone involved, the industry may, very sadly, be fighting a losing battle. And for as long the current EU-state leaders remain in place, I’m afraid things are not looking hopeful.
The EU-UK trade deal gave EU nations an opportunity up to 31 January 2021 to inform the commission they wanted to continue posting arrangements regarding social security, something that was considered to be the main stumbling block. The good news is that all EU nations have said they want it to continue. The bad news is, it turns out that social security is only one part of the problem.
The crux of the matter is that The EU Posted Workers Directive no longer applies to the UK. Therefore obtaining work permits remains the biggest issue and the rules in every country for getting these are, frustratingly, different.
In France, operators need to advertise a position on an employment website for at least eight weeks, then fill out a 17-page form and send it to the local authorities if they need to post a UK national to fill the role. It takes 3-4 months to be accepted & granted. The question remains whether this permit will be granted for 90+ days or not.
Once you have a work permit, then you need a visa. That takes another two weeks. Because the industry would need 8,000-10,000 work permits in France alone, means its just not viable. And what happens if an employee leaves or gets injured? How on earth is the employer supposed to find a replacement at short notice? There is currently no answer.
I should add that a number of operators are still seeking a way forward and a lot of lobbying is still being done to overcome the problems. If they start a recruitment programme, it will be in June/July this summer. A useful resource for up to date information on The Future of Seasonaires can be found at www.sbit.com (Seasonal Business in Travel).
Powder White moving forward:
We have made the incredibly difficult decision to close our catered chalet operation in Meribel, Courchevel, Val d’Isere and St Anton. It means that we will have no longer have employment opportunities in resorts.
Fraser and I saw this coming the moment the UK voted to leave the EU. In order to maintain our strong status & reputation in the industry, we have now driven the company in a significantly different direction. And with an incredible effort by our entire UK Team combined with huge investment into technology, we have reinvented our Business.
We have created multiple strong working relationships with accommodation suppliers in The Alps and North America on an Agency basis. We now offer the most comprehensive ski accommodation portfolio in the UK on our own website www.powderwhite.com and through our many partners which include British Airways Holidays & DNATA.
Powder White remains strong and we have thankfully weathered the Covid storm. There are exciting times ahead so we will keep you updated with our future plans and we look forward to welcoming you back to The Alps soon.
All the best,
Claire Freeland, Co-Owner, Powder White Ltd