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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

In your corner: REC Campaigns and policy news - 2 June 2021

Government and campaigns

Summer is here already and ‘Freedom Day’ is just around the corner if the spread of the Delta variant doesn’t derail plans. Whilst we keep our fingers crossed for the right conditions to allow the planned end of restrictions on the 21st, there’s plenty of other REC activity going on for you to be aware of.

The end of the grace period to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme is now less than a month away. Although you cannot ask employees for proof of status before that date, you should incentivise your employees to apply to preserve their right to legally live and work in the UK going forward. Government guidance has been updated to include late applications, but the current advice is that all of those who have the right to apply should do so before the 30 of June.

The Home Secretary has set out her plans for the future of the immigration system under the New plan for immigration: legal migration and border control published on 24 May. This sets out the vision for a fully digital border and includes deliverables for 2021/22 and goals for the system up until the end of 2024. Reforms to be delivered in the next 18 months: graduate visas, the Plan for Growth measures, digital capabilities (including online immigration status) and ending the use of ID cards.

EU/UK relationship and International Trade
The Professional Qualifications Bill has now been published, together with guidance. The bill is a framework for regulators to form Mutual Recognition Agreements and is aimed at professions that are regulated by law, not on a voluntary basis. 

Further guidance on travelling to work in some EU member states is now available and can be accessed here.

BEIS is seeking views in the future of regulatory cooperation for domestic regulation and best practice. To help inform their thinking, they are looking for views on possible regulatory barriers whilst trading with the EU since the end of the Transition Period. What types of regulatory cooperation would be beneficial and what other types of EU engagement would members like Government to consider. Members interested in feeding back to government on that can write to

Flexi-Job Apprenticeships Consultation
Earlier this week the REC submitted its response to the Department for Education’s consultation “Flexi-Job Apprenticeships: Reshaping the role of Apprenticeship Training Agencies”. Flexi-job apprenticeships were announced in the Chancellor’s March Budget, and it is important that this new scheme is accessible to recruitment businesses who are being failed by the existing apprenticeship levy system. The REC has called on government to ensure agencies can use the new flexi-job apprenticeship scheme to provide training for their temporary workers. Our full response to the DfE can be seen here.

Coronavirus - key dates when support for business will end
Whilst the implementation of stage 4 of the roadmap out of lockdown restrictions in England on 21st June is by no means certain, there are a number of initiatives by the Government to support business that are scheduled to end in the near future. These are:

  • Free lateral flow tests - If a business has already registered, free rapid lateral flow tests can be ordered until 30 June 2021 (the deadline for registering to order free rapid lateral flow tests was 12 April 2021).

  • VAT - deferred VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 can be paid in full now or businesses can join the VAT deferral new payment scheme – the online service is open until 21 June 2021. If a business requires extra help, HMRC must be contacted on 0800 024 1222 by 30 June 2021.

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - this is in operation until 30 September 2021, but the level of the Government contribution to wages for hours not worked will reduce each month: to until 70 per cent (up to £2,187.50) in July, and to 60 per cent (up to £1,875) in August and in September. The employer contribution to offset the reduction in the Government grant will be 10 per cent (up to £312.50) in July and 20 per cent (up to £625) in August and September. 

Education Sector Webinar
For agencies in the Education sector, our next webinar will be on the 22nd June. This will feature legal and policy updates affecting the sector. You can sign up to attend the webinar here.

Research Corner
The latest REC’s JobsOutlook offers further insight that recovery is gathering momentum and with it a restored confidence in the UK economy. In the three months to April, employers’ confidence about making new hires and investing in their businesses surged by 15 percentage points to net: +28, the highest the index has been since June 2016. Moreover, business confidence in the UK economy continued to improve and was at its highest in almost three years (net: -10). With the progression of the vaccine programme and the re-opening of the economy, sentiment surged across the individual months of this quarter, from net: -43 in February to net: +20 in April.

The REC is also publishing the new KPMG and REC, UK Report on Jobs this week, so keep an eye out for the latest insight on labour market conditions and recruitment activity in the UK.