Trade body warns the need to prioritise the Employment Bill

Responding to the latest labour statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which revealed that job vacancies grew to a new quarterly record in Q1 2022, Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), comments:

“The UK’s hiring crisis is showing no signs of slowing. While this is promising for the post-Covid and post-Brexit economy in that it signals continued growth for the country, the growing skills shortages being felt by employers is an issue that needs to be addressed if this level of demand is to be met.

“The current labour market simply isn’t fit for purpose in the modern world. It’s critical that the UK creates a strong and attractive talent arena – one that highly skilled contractors and the self-employed can be a part of in a way that is beneficial for all. APSCo has been calling for changes to both immigration visa routes for this segment of the workforce and employment legislation for some time in response to the changing nature of the world of work.

“We were pleased to see that the Government recognised the benefit of highly skilled immigration in the Chancellor’s latest Spring Statement and we believe a new visa regime will help alleviate some of the country’s current skills struggles. Further reform is still needed to employment legislation, including defining self-employed status, in order to ensure the highly skilled flexible segment of the workforce isn’t unfairly taxed or financially impacted following the roll out of Off Payroll.

“Plans to review the apprenticeship levy will also be beneficial to the UK’s labour market, but action really is needed swiftly. The fact that commentators are predicting that the long-awaited Employment Bill will be missing from the Queen’s speech next month while the country is facing rising vacancies and depleting talent pools is a concern. Creating a recruitment and employment market that is fit for purpose today is absolutely critical, and the absence of the Employment Bill in the May speech suggests progress may be slower than we would hope.”