February has come and gone in the blink of an eye – what a busy month it was! Lots happened in the world of HR, from nationwide strikes to testing shorter working weeks, we take a look at all things HR and what’s on the horizon for March.
On the 24th February, a government-appointed body gave the government’s impact assessment for its Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill the red card, as the government failed to provide sufficient evidence in its assessment of the legislation. Experts argued that it relied on assumptions and not hard facts. Therefore, the bill has been rated not fit for purpose as it stands. The impact assessment is expected to be published imminently. Clearly there is still a lot more detail required and therefore a unlikely change for the immediate future as the government obtains supporting evidence instead of assumptions.
This month we have seen some developments in the railway industry, representing some good news for passengers as some strikes have been cancelled. Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) have voted to accept offers by train companies in the long-running dispute over pay, job security and conditions. However, the threat of further strikes on the railways still remain as thousands of RMT members at Network Rail continue their disputes over similar issues .
The move towards a shorter working week
Firms which took part in a six-month trial, testing the costs and benefits of a four-day week on full pay, have announced that they are continuing with the four-day week now that the trials have ended.
The scheme took place last year between June and December, and involved 61 employers across the UK, including some non-profit organisations, as well as private firms in recruitment, software, and manufacturing. Workers received a 100% of their pay although worked 80% of the time, 1 day less. Not only have the companies seen extensive benefits to employee wellbeing, employers are saying the extra day off for employees is enabling employees to recuperate, allowing them to hit the ground running resulting in the same productivity, or enhanced on the days an employee is working. Could this be a means to employers offering an hourly increase to pay without financially increasing their budgets?
Recruitment – the hiring crisis
At the end of last year, 78 percent of UK companies reported talent shortages and hiring difficulties.
Research from Startups.co.uk reveals that on 1st February 2023, UK searches for ‘skilled worker visa’ , the recruiting of non-UK resident workers, hit its highest level since the implementation of Brexit.
The Skilled Worker Visa is the easiest way for an employer to sponsor a new foreign job hire for long-term employment. With this visa, any candidate who meets the requirements for the UK’s points-based immigration system can work in the UK. They can stay for up to five years before applying for indefinite leave to remain. Employers applying for a sponsor licence will need to pay an upfront fee of £364 for the first 12 months, plus £182 for each additional six months.
Research published by the Resolution Foundation say the answer to the hiring crisis is to consider those neglected talent pools: Women with children, disabled people, and traditionally post-retirement age workers. Flexibility can open up these doors as many people within these pools have dependant responsibilities, such as their partner or (grand)children.
Another affordable talent-finding method for companies is to invest in learning and development programs to help employees ramp up their expertise. This could be done by offering Apprenticeship schemes. Apprenticeship schemes are a cost-efficient way to invest in the future of the business and would stop hiring managers needing to look far away from home for their newest recruit.
Statutory Increase Payments – get ready for April 2023
In the run-up to April, don’t forget The Department of Work and Pensions has announced new rates for statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, parental bereavement, shared parental payments and statutory sick pay. NMW and NLW rates are also increasing.
The rate for 2023/24 for statutory maternity (SMP), paternity (SPP), adoption (SAP), parental bereavement (SPBP) and shared parental pay (ShPP) will increase from £156.66 to £172.48 per week. Additionally, the rate of statutory sick pay (SSP) is also set to increase from £99.35 to £109.40 per week.
The minimum weekly amount an individual must earn to be entitled to these payments will remain at £123.
Changes to NMW and NLW rates are set out below. These rates apply from 1 April 2023:
|Rate from April 2023||Current rate (April 2022 to March 2023)|
|National Living Wage||£10.42||£9.50|
|21-22 Year Old Rate||£10.18||£9.18|
|18-20 Year Old Rate||£7.49||£6.83|
|16-17 Year Old Rate||£5.28||£4.81|
And finally Redundancy Pay: The statutory cap on a week’s pay for the purposes of calculating the basic award and statutory redundancy pay is also changing and likely to be announced in March 2023. This change will come into effect on the 6th April 2023. More to follow once announced.
Struggling to keep up to date with the latest in HR? Join us for a FREE employment law webinar on 28th of March at 1pm – sign up here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jjlx1M70QrOm7tbz-Cut1Q