The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has set out the policy and legal challenges it anticipates contending with in 2018.

A recent poll of the trade association’s members found that 85% reported increased difficulty in sourcing suitably skilled and qualified candidates over the last year. The REC believes that, in order for employers and recruiters to access the staff and skills necessary for growth and competition, they will require research and data making the case for a balanced immigration policy to maintain a viable talent pool. The organisation will supply this research and aims to ensure that the government maintains an emphasis on people and skills as a core component of its industrial strategy.

The REC will track two major areas of regulatory policy, namely labour market enforcement and the ramifications of the Matthew Taylor review into modern working practices. It also intends to build a strong industry response to the latest IR35 consultation on extending the rebooted legislation to the private sector.

The REC shares a similar perspective on the IR35 consultation as Umbrella Company trade association the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA). Both regret that the extension is being considered at all given the havoc it has already caused in the public sector, but approval that the government appears to be seeking to avoid the errors made during the rushed and mishandled public sector rollout by engaging in a careful consultation.

Some public sector bodies, in their haste to comply with the new rules and avoid liabilities for paying employee tax and NICs, made sweeping, blanket recategorisations of their contracting professionals as employees. Large numbers of contractors, unhappy with their redesignation, simply walked away from the public sector altogether, causing delays and disruption to crucial projects that might have been avoided had a more nuanced and case-by-case approach been adopted. The number of personal service company contractors switching to Umbrella Companies to continue working flexibly has also increased substantially in the public sector, according to data received last year by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

The REC will continue to drive its message on the NHS to the government. As Tom Hadley, REC Director of Policy and Professional Services put it, “Ensuring that we have the right staff in place at the right time across all our institutions is key to front line services which is why public procurement must promote good recruitment, sustainable supply and flexible staffing arrangements.”

Other issues that the organisation will pursue include promoting good recruitment by helping people from all backgrounds progress in their work, and collaborating with policymakers to secure the best possible jobs market after Brexit.

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