The next government will need a new approach to work if it is to boost the economy and support workers, according to ‘Making Great Work Happen’, the election manifesto of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC).
Recruiters place a million people into new jobs every year and a million temps into work every day – so the REC’s recommendations are based on the expertise of the UK’s £35bn recruitment industry.
Through the ‘Making Great Work Happen’ manifesto, the REC and its members will be calling on candidates and party HQs to back key policy recommendations, including:
- Accepting that people work in a range of different, more flexible ways because it works for them, and designing policy that reflects this new normal. A priority would be to ensure the apprenticeship levy works for flexible workers too.
- Acknowledging that people need to be at the heart of the industrial strategy, with a new focus on staff engagement and to promote productivity growth, opportunity and inclusion. The REC wants to work with government on a new ‘Good Recruitment Taskforce’ to help drive good recruitment.
- Ensuring regulation is fit for purpose, by delaying IR35 changes until it’s clear that compliant firms won’t lose out, with effective regulation of umbrella companies a necessity.
- Building an immigration policy that works for our economy and public services by addressing skills and labour shortages. A temporary visa designed to address key shortages at all pay levels is essential, as well as a clear and well-run work permits system.
- Engaging with business on making sure the UK is ready for the work of the future, and that public policy can keep step.
Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said:
“This election should be about work. After all, few things matter more to people. Policies to make great work happen should be a priority for any incoming government.
“Businesses are ready to work with the next government to ensure the jobs market remains strong and versatile. This is why we call on all parties to ensure their manifestos help to make great work happen. Putting people at the heart of the industrial strategy – including through good recruitment – is an essential part of addressing the UK’s productivity problem.
“Our manifesto lays out a number of policy asks which together would support and protect workers while boosting business growth.
“Our call on broadening the apprenticeship levy to support the UK’s flexible workforce is a measure of how serious any government is about work. Policies which are designed to exclude temporary and part-time workers need to be consigned to history – a much more flexible approach is needed.
“Delaying IR35 implementation is not about avoiding change – it is about making sure change is effective. Without adequate time for businesses and HMRC to prepare, there is a huge risk that compliant firms and contractors will lose out to the non-compliant.”
The next government must ensure that employment regulations are proportionate and reflect modern working practices whilst nurturing one of our labour market’s greatest strengths: its two-way flexibility. To support this, the REC continues to campaign for broadening the apprenticeship levy to work for flexible staff. This opens up training to some 960,000 temporary workers – accounting for 98 per cent of those on short-term contracts employed through an agency. Flexible workers shouldn’t be locked out of the levy’s career progression benefits.
Preparing for productivity
The REC believes that skills policy alone isn’t enough to stimulate increased productivity. We are calling for the next government to put people at the heart of its industrial strategy by supporting companies on employee engagement, leadership and developing managers to drive economic growth.
Key to increased productivity is better diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The REC is calling for the creation of a ‘Good Recruitment Taskforce’ to provide the practical tools needed to boost diversity and inclusion, drive productivity and save businesses money by helping them to hire on long-term value. Alternatively, companies will continue to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds due to bad hires.
Legislation for legislation’s sake is non-sensical, especially in the current economic climate dominated by Brexit preparation. The REC’s manifesto recommends a delay of government’s IR35 regulation until 2021 to ensure that implementation problems in the public sector aren’t repeated. This includes full regulation of umbrella companies to ensure that HMRC is resourced to tackle non-compliant schemes.
On immigration policy, the REC wants the government to introduce a two-year temporary work visa or work permit that better supports business, workers and the economy to tackle skills shortages. Our manifesto also recommends lowering the salary threshold to £20,000 and ensuring visas are held by the worker, not the employer. This means the worker can move jobs if needed.
Supporting new career routes
Following a spate of high-profile insolvencies this year, the next government should increase support for those affected by collapses such as Thomas Cook by building on the existing Rapid Response Unit within the Department for Work & Pensions. An all-age work advice service that harnesses the expertise of businesses and recruitment professionals could really help job seekers.