Today is the last day to take part in a survey looking at the future for the British seasonaire after Brexit. What’s in store for the GB ski worker? UPDATED


There’s growing fear in the industry that the days of seasonaire – or “posted worker” may soon be over.

Seasonal jobs in the Alps such as holiday reps, chalet staff, bar workers and nannies are often filled with staff from the UK by holiday companies under the Posted Workers Abroad Directive.

Concern over the future of some UK companies and the seasonal staff they employ after Britain leaves the European Union has prompted this nationwide survey.

Brexit could change the shape of the UK ski industry and many are worried.

Very worried.

You can read some reaction from the PlanetSKI facebook page below.

Esprit staff and kids

Winter working with Esprit 














The survey is promoted by the ski and travel insurance specialist and PlanetSKI partner, MPI Brokers, and supported by prominent travel and insurance bodies.

“We have had almost 200 people respond and as soon as the month ends we will be analysing the data and publishing it next week,” said Michael Pettifer from MPI Brokers.

“I urge everyone to take part so we can get as much information and as many views as possible,” he added.

The worry is that many seasonal jobs will disappear if the Directive is not retained or replaced with a similar arrangement as part of the Brexit process.


Respondents to the ‘Save The Seasonaire’ survey are being asked to provide numbers of posted workers, annual turnover and number of customers.

They are also asked to estimate the financial impact if the Posted Workers Abroad Directive is not retained or replaced.

Chalet breakfast

Chalet breakfast prepared by seasonaires













Data from the survey will provide detailed statistics for presentation to The Department for Exiting the European Union.

The MPI Brokers survey is in association with ITT (Institute of Travel and Tourism), ABTA (representing travel agents and tour operators), AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) and BIBA (the British Insurance Brokers Association).

Companies have until 31st August to submit their responses to the survey.

The survey can be found online here.

“Brexit, in whatever shape it may take, has cast a long shadow over the UK snowsports industry as the existing business model of many companies is under threat if they can’t employ British staff overseas as they currently do. The traditional chalet holidays as it now stands may become a thing of the past,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

“It could have a huge impact on how the Brits go skiing. In simplistic terms the rich will continue with their catered chalets, but the others will have to go for self-catering as the traditional and basic British chalet holiday may not exist. Few companies are going on the record with their worries but there are some very concerned people out there about the impact Brexit may have on their business,” added James.

There has been a lot of reaction to this article over on the PlanetSKI facebook page:

Frank Atherton: The survey seems only to be aimed at employers? Why not put one together for the employees too? I’ve done 12 winter seasons and 1 summer. I don’t think seasonal workers will be a thing of the past despite what all the remoaners think.

Claire Louise:  The reason potential employees don’t answer these questions is because they won’t be the ones dealing with visas, employment issues and taxes in the country they will be based in. You got your 12 seasons under your belt due to the fact that we have freedom of movement and the mutual agreements.

Yes there will be seasonaires as they are seasonal workers and as the ski season is seasonal it means workers are seasonaires, however the number of them and the number of opportunities will potentially reduce.

Side note, some of these “remoaners” you mention are companies that gave you the opportunity to do 12 seasons and 1 summer in Europe .

Frank Atherton:
1 in Canada and 1 in the US, so not all in Europe. Good workers will have jobs no matter what political regime is operating at the time. Despite what most youngsters seem to think, seasonal work did not only come about when Britain joined the EEC (NOT the EU). There were Britons working in Europe before and there will be after. Nobody GAVE me anything. I work hard for all I have and all I achieve. It’s mainly ‘millennials’ who seem to think things should be given and not earned.

Nick Williams:
You clearly have no idea what you are talking about you idiot.

Frank Atherton: Typical of those who have no legitimate argument against the facts. Resort to insults.

Claire Louise: Frank Atherton to be fair I think @nickwilliams does know what he is talking about being that he runs a business using seasonaires so will have a fair few legitimate arguments up his sleeve.

Yes you worked hard for everything but companies had to GIVE you the opportunities.

I think grouping millennials as a generation who expect to be given everything is very daily mail-ish. I employed lots of millenials and they don’t expect everything to be given to them, what they would like is the same opportunities afforded to generation x and the baby boomers .

Frank Atherton: Despite all this tooing and froing, my point was that the survey excluded the very people who would be most affected by any changes? OK employers might deal with the legalities of visa’s etc but it is still the people who do the work who are most affected. Surely they should have a say? Despite any differences here we all want to see a thriving UK ski industry or am I just an old idealist?

Neil MacGrain: Remoaners, nobody gave me anything and entitled millennials, all standard lines from the Brexit Wanker handbook. Just need take back control and close the borders and we’ve got the lot. Good to see consistent messaging from their camp even though it’s likely to tank the economy… on the upside their might be some great deals, truly spectacular, the hugest ones with countries on the other side of the world!

Frank Atherton: craig conkie & neil macgrain. 2 more who resort to insulting people when they have no reasoned points to make. Thick enough to think insults make a difference.

Rob Rees: Frank, just out of interest what do you think the rights for UK citizens will be for working in the EU after Brexit? Do you think there will be much change from the rights we have now? You seem fairly confident that working rights will continue, so I’m wondering what form you think those rights will take. Related to that, do you think the UK’s seeming determination to withdraw the automatic working rights for EU citizens who wish to work in the UK will have any effect on the rights the EU offers UK citizens?

Clive Cripps: There is a very real danger that Brexit will totally change the industry. If the UK takes a hard line on EU citizens working rights in the UK we can expect to see it reciprocated on us. There is also the worry of “open sky’s” not being sorted which could leave a real mess for a period with the possibility of legislation not being in place to allow flights to continue as usual. A lot of companies in the industry may not be financial strong enough to survive the time that it takes to sort it out.

Karen Broom Smith: If the free movement of labour is discontinued and/or with it, the Posted Workers Directive (PWD) which is a sub-set of this principle:

• It will no longer be feasible for UK citizens to work in many EU countries to service the overseas winter and summer travel & tourism industry due to the requirement for work visas (which at best will be costly & time consuming to obtain but at worst, may not be granted at all)


• the costs of this employment will be prohibitive

This will significantly drive up costs, shrinking the market and, in France (where employment costs are the highest in Europe) and the ski industry (where fixed costs are high due to large infrastructure requirements), may result in the collapse of the sector.

James Covey said : “In simplistic terms the rich will continue with their catered chalets, but the others will have to go for self-catering as the traditional and basic British chalet holiday may not exist.”

In fact, the French ski business may well collapse entirely. There are c.2 million foreign skiers who visit France each winter season of which c. 25%, i.e., 500,000 are British. (these numbers are already trending downwards)

Much of this British ski market is serviced by UK-based businesses; being seasonal, these businesses rely on the free movement of labour to facilitate easy and cost-effective hiring processes and so increase capacity quickly as demand in peak times ramps up. Many (most?) of their workers are “posted workers” – i.e., employed in the UK and sent by the UK based employer to work in another EU state on a temporary basis. This system of “posted workers” is used primarily for reasons of cost, but also ease of recruiting and cultural affinity.

COST: because in the UK, at minimum wage rates (which is where the majority of seasonal workers are paid), NI is close to zero. By contrast, in France, employer’s social security is c. 45% (employees is c.20%), higher by far than anywhere else in Europe, plus they have the most onerous rules regarding maximum work periods, overtime rates etc.
Essentially if UK based businesses had to employ people on French contracts, wage costs would at least double, perhaps even be up to 4x what they are today. There is no way these costs can be absorbed, prices would rise, visitor numbers would reduce and there’d be knock on effects to other industries – most notably the lift companies who have extremely high fixed costs due to their enormous infrastructure – who’d have to put up their prices, further reducing visitor numbers…

A vicious cycle which would / could end in the collapse of the ski industry, particularly in France. An industry which by the way does not only employ and entertain the wealthy, but people across the whole spectrum, and not only British people (who may or may not have voted for this to happen!) but also people in other European nations.

This is a huge issue.

And incidentally, there are thousands of UK citizens who go to work in other EU nations abroad and who ware not “posted workers” but are employed on local contracts and paid locally. This looks likely to stop too – with a “hard Brexit”, it is possible that UK citizens (like other non EU nationals) may only work abroad if they have a work visa (and for France, a residency permit “carte de sejour”). The visa process is at best, costly, but also it is likely to be prohibitively slow / onerous and it may be impossible to obtain a visa without first proving that the position couldn’t be filled by a “local” citizen…

And… although there is currently talk about transitional agreements which would allow freedom of movement into the UK beyond 29th March 2019, it doesn’t necessarily follow that, for instance, the French will allow freedom of movement from the UK into France, or the Austrians from UK to Austria, the Spanish from the UK to Spain, Greece, Croatia… (the last being major destinations for summer seasonal workers)

(Hopefully this is a bit more fact and argument-ful?)

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