More than three-quarters of staff in the hospitality sector face verbal abuse on a regular basis, while more than half say they have experienced harassment or bullying.
That is according to a new study into the conditions faced by staff working in hotels, bars and restaurants by Dr Deirdre Curran, a lecturer at NUI Galway's School of Business and Economics and Whitaker Institute.
Her investigation, "Inside-Out Hospitality: An Exploration of Working Conditions in the Hospitality Sector in Ireland", focused on the 'widespread abuse of employment rights', where staff are treated with 'no dignity and no respect', according to Dr Curran.
She said that an absence of data on the issues in the sector prompted her research.
She posted a 38-question survey online and got 257 responses. More than 100 in-depth follow-up interviews were then conducted with respondents who chose to leave contact details at the end.
Respondents included housekeeping and wait staff, chefs, receptionists and management. Almost two-thirds of the respondents were female and 56% of people were in permanent employment. 73% said they had been working for more than three years and 60% were aged 25 or over.
- - 76% of respondents said they experienced verbal abuse sometimes or often;
- - 64% said they experienced psychological abuse sometimes or often;
- - 15% said they experienced physical abuse sometimes or often;
- - 52% said they don't get the breaks they are entitled to;
- - 42% said they had no written record of their contract terms;
- - 16% said they had no access to payslips;
- - 55% said they had witnessed or experienced harassment based on sexuality, age or race;
- - 63% said they had experienced or witnessed bullying;
- - 48% said they felt they had no voice or access to union representation.
Dr Curran described the findings as "scary", in particular the prevalence of bullying and harassment, which she said are "endemic and accepted" in some parts of the industry.
She read out excerpts from the submissions, including staff detailing accounts of being physically and verbally abused in the workplace, and instances of sexual harassment.