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Round-up of the week

Posted on 9th September 2016

Permanent placements up for first time in three months

The August 2016 Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and Markit revealed the first increase in permanent placements for three months. Hiring declined in the previous two months, which were marked by uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum.

In the temporary labour market, staff billings rose at the fastest pace since May, having dropped to a ten-month low in July.

Other findings showed that starting salaries for permanent workers continued to increase in August. Skills shortages and an upturn in senior placements were among the factors that contributed to this pay growth.

Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, said the jobs market appeared to have returned to pre-referendum patterns, following the "initial shock" of the Brexit vote in the previous two months.

"Permanent hiring returned to growth as employers confirmed appointments that had been on hold or delayed in June and July," he added.

Businesses adopt 'wait and see' approach to Brexit

A survey by risk management and advisory group Willis Towers Watson found that two-thirds (66 per cent) of employers believe their business in the UK will be significantly affected by Britain's departure from the European Union, but the majority (56 per cent) are taking a 'wait and see' approach to the situation.

Approximately 200 firms were surveyed, more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of which had started a broad consideration of the implications of Brexit. Six out of ten (60 per cent) had looked into what it meant for specific areas, but only one in three (33 per cent) had completed any scenario planning and less than a quarter (24 per cent) had conducted a detailed impact assessment.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of financial services businesses had started scenario planning, compared to only 20 per cent of technology, media and telecoms companies.

Richard Veal, director of Willis Towers Watson's UK talent and rewards practice, said: "The results show that UK business is concerned about the effects of Brexit, but uncertainty appears to be hindering many companies [from] taking immediate action.

"It is important that companies think about what the next steps should be and get into a more action-oriented state of mind."

TUC raises concerns over zero-hours contracts

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) this week raised further concerns over zero-hours contracts - which offer no guarantee of minimum hours - after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released data showing growth in these working arrangements.

According to the ONS estimates, approximately 903,000 people were employed on zero-hours contracts in their main job during the April to June quarter. This latest estimate is an increase of 156,000 from the same period a year earlier and represents 2.9 per cent of the entire workforce.

The data also showed that people on zero-hours contracts were more likely than other workers to be young, part-time, female or in full-time education. Nearly one in three (31 per cent) wanted more hours, compared to ten per cent of people on standard contracts.

According to the TUC, zero-hours contracts provide an easy way for bosses "to employ staff on the cheap". Frances O'Grady, the trade union body's general secretary, said it was impossible to escape the fact that people working in this way earn less money and have fewer rights than permanent employees.

She added: "If you don't know how much work you will have from one day to the next, paying the bills and arranging things like childcare can be a nightmare. Today's figures are a stark reminder of why we need to create more decent jobs people can actually live on."

Older workers 'vital for the future of the economy'

This week saw Business in the Community launch a new campaign to help employers create age-friendly workplaces and make the most of the potential of older members of the workforce.

A number of high-profile companies have confirmed their support for the initiative, including Aviva, Barclays, EY, Boots and the Co-operative Group.

The launch was accompanied by a report noting that, between 2005 and 2015, the number of people over the age of 50 working in the UK increased by 2.5 million. Over the next six years, some 14.5 million vacancies are expected to open up as people leave the workforce and new positions are created, but only seven million young people will be available to fill these roles.

Meanwhile, there are approximately one million older people who are unemployed but want to work. According to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, bringing just half of this group into the labour force would boost the UK economy by up to £88 billion a year.

Andy Briggs, chief executive of Aviva UK and Ireland Life and chair of the Business in the Community Age at Work leadership team, said there is a "critical need" for employers to ensure people can work for longer, partly because most workers aren't saving enough for retirement.

"This shift in demographics needs to be harnessed by business, not feared, because there are real advantages to any business in having a diverse and representative workforce," he added.

To discuss conditions in the labour market and operating environment further, speak to one of our experts here at The Maine Group!