From Lithuania to the Sheraton – an uplifting tale of good cheer

Ben Thornber of Dunfermline-based Thornber HR Law writes about the good faith of one his clients and how it pays to give people a chance…

Irrespective of your views about Brexit and EU migration to the UK, it’s too easy to forget that people coming to live and work in this country they have their own personal stories.  So it was a pleasure for me to learn about one uplifting story which my client, No 11 Hotel & Brasserie on Brunswick St, Edinburgh, has about one of its employees.
Hailing from Lithuania, Peter started working for the Hotel as a night porter in 2013.  At the time he was notionally at College, but he dropped out and went off the rails for a while.  At this point most employers would have said goodbye, but the owners of the hotel, Hamish and Susan Grant, were willing to give him a second chance.
They recognised he was bright, quick to learn and good with customers, and so gave Peter a role as a waiter where he could spend more time with clients and an opportunity to learn more skills. They also helped with discussions with the college which supported Peter through the difficult period.
Peter quickly got to grips with waiting tables. Seeing that he was beginning to sort his life out and grab the opportunity given to him, the hotel owners gave Peter more responsibility as shift supervisor. Then in spring 2015 an opportunity came up to become acting restaurant manager, and he stepped up to the task.
Having gained renewed confidence in his abilities, Peter wanted to study for a degree in hotel management.  The hotel were more than accommodating by offering him flexible hours so that he could attend the course and pursue his university studies.
All this hard work and good faith has resulted in Peter having recently landed a management role with the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh while continuing with his degree.
For their part, the hotel owners are delighted that Peter has taken the opportunity to get back on track with his life and is fulfilling his potential.
It’s refreshing to see an employer take this kind of enlightened approach. It would have been all too easy to give up on Peter, with many others available to take his place. But they saw his potential, gave him the opportunity and made the investment. Rather than begrudge that he has moved on, the hotel owners have the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing an employee grow and develop.
An enlightened employer helping an employee turn their life around? – let’s have more of those stories please, no matter what country they are from.  And – to get back to the EU debate –  not only do employers in the hospitality trade wonder where their staff will come from with the lack of applications from UK nationals, but let’s not forget that closing the door on people like Peter means the same door will be shut on our own young people in other EU countries. Now that would be a shame.
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