The UK food sector saw substantial challenges in recruiting and retaining the best talent in 2018, that picture does not appear to be changing in 2019 causing clients to consider innovation and new ways of working in order to mitigate those risks.
We will look at some of the main issues facing UK employers and provide some practical, proactive steps to take now to ensure labour supply does not disrupt your business. Inevitably, the world of work is changing, this is nothing new, but the rate of acceleration is unprecedented. Employers need to stay informed and plan ahead to put themselves in the best possible position.
The "Good Work Plan" and what it means for UK employers
The Government launched its Good Work Plan setting out its vision for the future of the UK labour market and how it will implement the recommendations arising from the Taylor Review. The proposals follow an increase in flexible working arrangements in the UK labour market and include:
What should employers be doing now?
The Government has a clear agenda to increase workers' rights, and importantly, knowledge of those rights. Although there was initial scepticism as to how soon the changes would come into effect, the Government wasted no time in releasing draft legislation. Employers will need to review and amend working practices to ensure compliance with the forthcoming changes. Employers should identify which sectors of the workforce will be impacted and start workforce planning now.
Labour supply post-Brexit and the future of immigration
There has been much concern over EU citizens' rights post-Brexit. After repeated demands for assurances, the Government set out its plan outlining a "settled status". Essentially all existing EU migrants could apply for "settled status" or "leave to remain" once they had met certain continuous residency requirements.
Despite constant reassurances from the Government that it is extremely unlikely we will not reach an agreement with the EU by 29 March 2019, there is still the possibility of a "no-deal Brexit". Whilst times remain uncertain, it is important for employers to focus on what we do know.
EU Settlement Scheme update – 6 December 2018
The Home Office released an update in December confirming that the EU Settlement Scheme will continue to be implemented if there is no deal. This would allow EU citizens and family members living in the UK by 29 March 2019 to secure their status.
White Paper on the UK's future skills-based immigration system – 19 December 2018
The Government published its much anticipated White Paper on the UK's future skills-based immigration system. The White Paper is drafted on the basis of a deal being reached with the EU. The key provisions include:
What should employers be doing now?
Employers should consider auditing their workforce and updating records to determine if labour supply will be an issue. Even if EU nationals are not employed consider the impact of Brexit on the wider labour market. Employers should provide assistance to EU nationals to ensure they are updated on the latest announcements from the Government. In addition, employers should consider the impact on any UK nationals they have working in EU countries.
Employers should set up a Brexit working group if they haven't already done so. The group can take responsibility for monitoring on-going Brexit issues and updating the wider business. Labour shortfall is very much on the Government's agenda with schemes such as the pilot to bring 2,500 seasonal workers to UK farms from outside the EU being announced in the autumn. It is vital for employers to stay up-to-date to ensure they can maximise the use of such opportunities.
For further information on the impact of a "no deal Brexit" on employment rights please see our Legal Insight.
Labour supply and the future world of work is a key focus for UK employers. Workforce planning remains a top priority, with post-Brexit uncertainty, the publication of the Government's Good Work Plan and the increased use of technology and innovation. There is no one fixed point to aim towards, rather an evolving employment landscape. Employers that are dynamic and able to diversify, we consider, will find themselves in an advantageous position.