Following the announcement of the forthcoming general election on 8th June, recruitment industry bodies have responded to the main parties’ manifestos and how they could affect recruiters.
Very soon after the election was called, The Association of Recruitment Consultancies (ARC) urged all parties to set out their respective positions on employment issues, status and tax so that voters can know what to expect from the next government.
“Since the EU referendum last year there has been much speculation on many issues that touch upon employment, yet there is little clarity”, say Adrian Marlowe, Chairman of ARC. “Top of the list and figuring large in the referendum is the issue of immigration, against the background that our country relies upon the ability to hire workers from abroad in many areas, and ten months on we are still in the dark.”
Commenting on the draft Labour Party manifesto, he said: “The draft manifesto draws attention to areas in our society that many would agree require attention and investment, and investment leading to new jobs and better rates of pay is to be welcomed. We look forward to seeing the detail on areas such as the proposal to abolish zero hours contracts, but we see the idea of a minimum guaranteed number of hours as problematic. It is not at all clear what kind of regular contract a worker would be entitled to after 12 weeks’ work of regular hours, as is proposed.”
The Conservative Party pledged to make workplace reforms, which include new protections for ‘gig economy’ workers and a one-year National Insurance exemption for firms that hire people from under-represented groups.
The CIPD’s Chief Executive, Peter Cheese, said: “As we move beyond traditional employment frameworks it’s very important that people really understand what their employment rights are. … The right to request leave for training purposes is a welcome step, although more detail and consultation on how this will be applied is needed, especially as we have seen with flexible working that the right to request itself is not a silver bullet.
“The biggest obstacle facing people in developing new skills is falling employer investment in skills and workplace training, and with the growth of self-employment and contract work, and increased job mobility, how people will be supported for training and lifelong learning is a key question.”
Meanwhile, the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) has revealed its concerns on learning that Labour promises to ban umbrella companies and clamp down ‘bogus’ self-employment. It has also raised issue with the party’s pledge to stamp out false self-employment by shifting the burden of proof of worker status onto the employer. It has urged Labour not to punish genuine self-employed workers and to review its ban on umbrella companies if elected.
Julia Kermode, FCSA Chief Executive said: “The recommendation that employed status should be assumed as the default with the hiring business needing to prove the case for self-employment would have a devastating impact on UK businesses and ultimately the economy. … It’s ludicrous to expect that someone engaging a gardener would have to prove the case for that person being self-employed! The end result could see no contingent workforce at all, which unfairly penalises the 4.8m people choosing to work in this way.”