The REC’s latest JobsOutlook – its monthly survey of 600 employers – strikes an upbeat note for jobbing PAYE umbrella contractors. Despite the continued precariousness of the economy, employers remained confident last month. Agency staff were more in demand than this time last year, even after the implementation of the Agency Workers Regulations.

The number of employers planning to hire more permanent staff in the coming three months climbed three points to 65%. Nearly a third (30%) say they will maintain current permanent staffing levels. A mere 5% intend to cut staff.

Although it is still too early to gauge the full impact of the AWR, contractors working through umbrella companies or personal service companies are solidly in demand. Over the next three months, 82% of employers say they will increase their temporary personnel. In the longer term hiring intentions are even more robust, with 84% planning to increase or maintain their agency staff.

Anyone hoping to find contractor roles or permanent posts in the public sector may have less of a struggle than they might have expected – more public sector employers now believe that budgetary cuts will have a less harmful effect than previously. 38% believe they will have little effect on their business while 32% believe they will have no effect at all. Only 28% think the cuts seriously harmful.

Roger Tweedy, Director of Research at the REC, noted with approval that the employer confidence barometer had risen to 24 – a substantial rise on than the low point of 19 recorded in September.

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