Four key challenges to consider as part of your workforce planning strategy
Victoria Roythorne, head of shared service at Outsource UK
Whether your focus is contingent (contractor) hiring, adding permanent headcount to your organisation or perhaps even juggling a blended workforce solution approach, there are a whole host of compliance challenges that will affect your ability to secure the best talent for your business.
The ‘B’ word
Immigration policy is the most obvious (and immediate) Brexit related staffing concern for most businesses, particularly if you currently engage a large number of EU workers. Whether or not we secure a deal to leave the EU on 29th March, there will be a transition period where workers from the EU who are currently in the UK can apply for either settled visa status, or pre-settled visa status, depending on the length of time they have been living and working in the UK. Whilst the Government recently announced that there will be no charge for this application and have stated that the process should be straightforward (via an app in most cases) if you have a high population of EU workers who are critical to your business’s productivity, you may want to consider assisting workers in some way with this process.
The timeline for what happens next depends on whether we are in a deal or no deal scenario, but either way we are going to see a new VISA system where EU workers who want to live and work in the UK are likely to need sponsorship in order to do so. This means more businesses may need to apply for sponsorship licences and have compliance processes in place to manage these effectively.
Similarly, right to work check processes will need to be updated, as businesses will need to take additional steps to ensure that workers from the EU have the correct work permit in place (once the transition period has come to an end). At the moment, it seems that workers who have had their settled or pre-settled status approved will not be given a biometric card, or similar document to prove their status, but instead this information will be stored in an online portal. This will obviously mean a change for businesses in terms of RTW check procedures.
As we approach April, it will also be time for businesses with over 250 employees to report once again on their Gender Pay Gap. Introduced for the first-time last year, this year businesses who meet the reporting thresholds will be required to submit their reports, and ideally, provide commentary on the measures they have taken to reduce their gender pay gap. In an additional development last year, the Government also released a consultation regarding Ethnicity Pay reporting – the next step perhaps in terms of pushing businesses to really focus on their diversity and inclusion strategies. Although there are no dates for any suggested implementation of this latest reporting requirement, it is undoubtedly something businesses should start to consider.
Good Work Plan
Towards the end of last year, you may have seen some announcements regarding the Government’s ‘Good Work Plan’. Published in December 2018, this document sets out the government’s ‘vision for the future of the UK Labour market’ and is the follow up to the Matthew Taylor Review (an independent paper published in 2018 which investigated modern working practices in the UK, and which made recommendations for reform). This is definitely something to keep an eye on, as this wide-ranging plan could mean increased fines and penalties for non-compliance, but also requirements for policy or process updates.
For those of involved in the hiring, management, or compliance surrounding the engagement of professional contractors, the IR35 2020 legislation changes are looming. These changes mean that, instead of contractors being responsible for determining IR35 status for the assignments they complete, this responsibility (and liability) will flow up the supply chain to the agencies and end clients who utilise these services. Whilst it may be tempting to take the view that with over a year to go, there is lots of time for procrastination over policy on this one, I would throw a note of caution to this approach. This legislation reform is a game changer for businesses who engage contractor resource. This really doesn’t have to be a disaster, it just requires early planning in order to get the correct (compliant) policies and procedures in place. Businesses can – and should – continue to benefit from the services our every growing number of professional contractors provide, there just needs to be a bigger focus on compliance, and on matching the correct type of resource to the role requirement.
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