Hilary Green
Hilary Green

Flexible Healthcare Resourcing platform is a first for MoD

A new digital Staff Bank has been rolled out for the Ministry of Defence, allowing compliant, flexible workers priority access to assignments across the UK and abroad as they become available.

The platform was launched by HCRG (Health Care Resourcing Group) and designed in collaboration with healthcare staffing specialists Patchwork Health.

The platform will be used to assign temporary doctors, nurses, dental professionals, and allied health professionals. The assigned flexible workers will support the permanent military and civilian workforce in the provision of primary, as well as secondary, healthcare, and dental and mental health services.

Assignments will be available in UK and Overseas tri-service military locations, offering a unique opportunity for healthcare professionals to practice their skill base in various primary and secondary healthcare, dental and mental health service settings.

Healthtech company Patchwork holds various collaborative banks for NHS Trusts throughout the UK. Their technology will allow members of the Staff Bank to accept assignments through an app designed by and for healthcare professionals. The app is created to provide a more efficient assignment process and ensure every flexible worker is fully compliant.

The Staff Bank welcomes applications from all healthcare professionals, including those with previous locum or permanent MoD experience, but current permanent MOD Military and MOD Civil Servants cannot join the platform.

Gezz van Zwanenberg, COO at HCRG, said: “Our teams have worked previously as master vendor supplier of healthcare staff to the MOD for a number of years historically, so it’s an honour for HCRG to have now been chosen to provide the organisation with their flexible healthcare resource.”

Dr Anas Nader, CEO and co-founder of Patchwork Health, commented: “Digital staff banks are the future of temporary healthcare provision. They offer a dynamic, reliable and safe way of ensuring healthcare settings have the clinicians they need, when they need them. Crucially, this system not only drives up safe worker levels, but also makes the experience better for the individual worker, meaning the entire system benefits. We’re delighted to be partnering with HCRG to deliver this critical project to the MOD.”

Russell Pidducci, Account Director at HCRG, commented: “This new Staff Bank offers flexible opportunities that will interest a wide range of healthcare professionals. The technology makes it incredibly easy to view and book assignments, ranging from single day opportunities to longer term assignments lasting a few months. Whereas previously healthcare professionals may have been waiting on the call from locum agencies, we’re now providing instant, priority access to assignments as they go live via the app, allowing for professionals to self-book assignments 24/7.”

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Only 53% of staff appreciate benefits ‘very much’

With World Suicide Prevention Day coming up on the 10th of September, GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector, has released new research on how employee benefits can help prevent suicide. The research also looked at how the benefits are received and their impact.

While employee benefits can help to prevent suicide by providing access to mental health support such as counselling, or assisting with debt and money worries, they can only help if they are utilised and appreciated.

According to the research, only 51% of employers even measure staff appreciation of benefits. This number moves in line with the number of employees. The smallest companies are least likely to measure appreciation of benefits, while the large corporates are likely to assess how they are valued.

The survey revealed that of those companies that measure appreciation of benefits, 42% said their employees only ‘somewhat’ appreciate them.

In terms of measurement, the most popular methods are through informal feedback to managers or HR professionals, or through formal surveys, with 41% of employers using these methods. Suggestion boxes and employee benefits forums or working groups followed, with both used by 38% of companies.

The least popular option was management information on utilisation of benefits, used by only 16% of employers. This measurement is a missed opportunity to gauge how much a benefit is utilised and could be effectively used together with other methods to understand how employees value the benefits on offer.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, commented: “If employees don’t appreciate their benefits, then it is going to be difficult for them to achieve what they are designed to do.”

“For this World Suicide Prevention Day, we would like to highlight how important it is that employers don’t just put benefits in place, but that they regularly tell their staff what support is available, actively encourage them to use it, and measure how much it’s utilised and appreciated. This is the best way to ensure benefits do what they’re designed to, which is particularly important in terms of accessing support for mental health.”

“There is a concerning set of circumstances in which employees seem to be blasé or indifferent to the benefits they are provided. Preventing ill health, both physical and mental, is a key reason for offering health and wellbeing benefits. Employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness all include a great deal of support for mental wellbeing. But if these benefits are not being communicated and appreciated, then they are not able to perform to their full potential and wellbeing may suffer as a result.”

“Suicide is preventable, and the support within employee benefits can help with this. Employers can play their part by joining in with this year’s theme creating hope through action and boosting understanding and appreciation of the benefits they have in place to support their people. This will in turn lead to better mental health outcomes.”

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Virtual right-to-work checks no longer possible

From 1 October 2022, employers must adopt new digital right-to-work checks for British and Irish nationals. The only alternative will be to go back to in-person manual checks.

According to global mobility and immigration advisers Vialto Partners, employers will no longer be able to use the virtual checks introduced by the Home Office under its ‘Covid-19 adjusted right to work checks’ concession.

The digital right-to-work checks are likely to speed up the required checks, ensuring that they are less cumbersome for employers and less disruptive for employees, especially for large, multi-site businesses.

All UK employers are expected to conduct right-to-work checks on all British and Irish nationals as well as EEA and Non-EEA nationals. If discovered, employers can see fines of up to £20,000 per illegal employee.

The Home Office has suggested that businesses conduct right-to-work checks for British and Irish nationals via an authorised Identification Service Provider with accredited Identification Documentation Verification Technology.

Lyudmyla Davies, Partner at Vialto Partners, said: “Right to work checks exist to reduce the risk of employers employing staff that do not have the right to work in the UK. Traditionally, they would be conducted in person with an employer or HR adviser checking a passport or identity card.”

“The Home Office had intended to move to online right-to-work checks in April this year but pushed back following delays in certifying technology providers. From 1 October, right-to-checks for British and Irish nationals must be done using Identification Validation Technology or they must revert back to the cumbersome process of manually checking and certifying original documents in person.”

“The Government would like employers to use a certified Identification Service Provider, saying it takes reassurance from the certification process and that employers should too. It will not, however, be essential.”

“Employers have a short window of time to adopt this new regime, and those that get it wrong can be fined £20,000 for each illegal worker and lose their ability to sponsor overseas workers.”

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1.3m UK SMEs have lost talent in 2022 because employees feel undervalued.

Twenty-four percent of UK SMEs have lost undervalued talent in the past 4-6 months, according to research commissioned by digital gifting company Prezzee.

The research also revealed that in organisations of more than 250 staff, 4 in 10 HR Directors have changed or are looking at different ways to reward staff – regardless of where their staff work.

Even with the Great Resignation, 35% of SMEs admitted that employees get the same rewards, regardless of location, job title, or other contributing factors. This, despite differing hobbies and passions. Furthermore, the budget for rewarding staff isn’t used to its full potential as 66% said their team didn’t attend events or rewards weren’t received how they would like.

When looking at why so many employees don’t engage with reward schemes and events, the research showed that 80% of HR Directors don’t understand their employees’ interests well enough.

The data also showed that there is too much pressure solely on the shoulders of HR Directors to get this right. For example, only 16% of SMEs have created teams of employees at multiple levels to decide the rewards and incentive strategy to increase happiness and staff retention.

James Malia, UK MD of Prezzee, said: “When times are tough, as they undoubtedly have been over the past two years, reward and incentive strategies are more important than ever. They’re a clear way to showcase how highly a company values its staff and as our data reveals, when not done well it directly results in people leaving for greener pastures.

“It’s therefore important that businesses are doing everything they can to support employees during the cost of living crisis. It doesn’t need to be a huge change in strategy either, the trick is to offer personalised rewards and incentives regularly – rather than making people wait a year for bonuses. It’s then that people will realise quite how highly businesses value them, especially when these incentives come at a time when money is tight, as it is for many during the current cost of living crisis.

“Times of financial difficulties can be hard to open-up about, especially within the place of work, so HR and line managers need to be one step ahead of their employees.

Indeed, the future of loyalty incentives should revolve around personalised, thoughtful rewards that highlight how much businesses care about their employees. Those companies which change their ways now will find themselves in a much stronger position come 2023.”

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Millions are looking for higher-paid roles or pay rises

According to a recently published national employee survey showing trends and insights into the UK job market, 52% of UK employees say that the cost-of-living crisis is impacting their career by pushing them to look for a new role or a pay rise from their current employer.

The survey by CareerWallet, went on to reveal that 27% of UK employees are already looking for a new role to earn more money to survive the cost-of-living crisis. A further 25% have either asked or are planning to ask for a pay rise from their current employer.

The cost-of-living crisis has driven up the costs of food, petrol, and energy bills. Of the employees surveyed, those under 30 have been most impacted. Thirty-five percent of these are in the process of looking for a new role. Regionally, the North East is most affected, with 40% of all employees changing roles.

The survey revealed how many employees are impacted by the increased cost of living. It highlights that current salaries and pay rises need to cover these costs to retain their staff and prevent them from looking for opportunities elsewhere.

Craig Bines, CEO at The CareerWallet Group, commented:  “At CareerWallet, we process millions of jobs a day and this allows us to quickly see how the job market is being impacted on a daily basis.

Our national employee survey has highlighted how UK employees are already being impacted by the rise in the cost of living and are actively looking to counter this by pursuing a new role or a pay increase and it is important that all employers are aware of this and act quickly to keep their talented people in their businesses.”

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Spain, Italy, and France are top destinations

According to new research, more than half (57%) of workers are planning to extend their holidays this year to work abroad.

The research undertaken by flexible workspace operator, IWG, revealed that 88% of workers plan to work from anywhere – UK or away – this year. Hybrid working has opened up opportunities for employees to work from anywhere, and many companies are responding accordingly. For example, companies such as Airbnb and Spotify have introduced work-from-anywhere policies to provide employees with flexibility when they travel.

The research showed that 67% of workers believe that they can perform their job effectively abroad, and a further 71% agreed that they would only consider a new job if it gave them the flexibility to work from anywhere for at least some of the time.

In terms of the benefits of working from anywhere, the following were cited:

  • Improved work-life balance (76%)
  • Spend more time with friends and family abroad (52%)
  • Saving money by travelling off-peak (47%)
  • Being able to enjoy longer holidays (30%)

Eighty-nine percent of office workers surveyed said they’re now more likely to work from anywhere than pre-pandemic. A further 83% believe that businesses’ adopting hybrid working has made this lifestyle possible.

‘Flexcations’ are also a popular perk. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they would be more inclined to work for a company offering frequent ‘flexcations’ as a perk.

The top locations for hybrid overseas workers:

  • Spain
  • Italy
  • France
  • United States
  • Greece

According to IWG’s office usage data in popular overseas locations for the start of summer:

  • Barcelona, Spain, saw a 168% increase in usage from June to July
  • Italy saw significant rises for its shared offices in Turin (+412%), Milan (+312%), and Rome (+137%).
  • France also recorded growth in its offices in Rennes (+249%), Lille (+155%), and Reims (+147%).

While employees are keen on making the best of the summer months, employers must update policies. Forty-one percent of employees said their employers did not have an official policy in place, and this was preventing them from working from anywhere.

Mark Dixon, IWG Founder and CEO, commented: “For an increasing number of workers, the days of the daily commute are over, now that hybrid working offers the opportunity to work wherever we will be the most productive. And thanks to cloud technology, that can be anywhere in the world, provided there’s a high-quality internet connection available.

“So, it’s no wonder that more and more individuals are embracing the idea of combining work with travel, whether it’s for a few days tacked on to the end of a vacation, or a few months as a digital nomad.

“This trend is set to accelerate further, and we will continue to see more and more companies embracing WFA policies to improve employees’ work-life balance and increase their attractiveness as an employer.”

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Cost of living crisis is taking hold

Research from jobs and careers site, Reed.co.uk has shown that 33% of workers have applied for or have considered applying for a new job. In addition, 65% of workers have changed job-seeking priorities in response to the cost-of-living crisis. A salary increase is becoming a common priority for 34% of workers.

The survey, which looked at the opinions of over 2,000, revealed that 22% have said they intend to look for a new job soon and 55% of workers are actively seeking or considering a new one. A further 17% admitted that the increasing cost of living made better work-from-home opportunities more of a priority.

Amongst active jobseekers, the data revealed that 30% of women are more motivated by a salary increase than men (27%). Furthermore, younger workers – between 18-34 – are more likely to consider changing jobs to secure a salary increase than other generations (45% compared to the 29% average).

Fifty percent of workers said that a salary increase is the most meaningful action an employer can take to retain employees, while 47% said that a low salary was the reason they’d want to leave their current employer. Forty percent of workers indicated that they would stay with their current employer if a better salary counter offer were made.

In terms of amounts, the survey showed that employers could retain some workers with moderate increases. For workers aged 55-64 and 65+, most (32% and 38% respectively) agreed that salary increases of less than £1,000 would be sufficient to convince them to stay. For workers aged 18-34 and 35-44, a salary increase of between £2,500 – £4,900 was required by most (33% and 30% respectively) to continue with their current employer.

James Reed, Chairman of Reed.co.uk, commented: “Due to runaway inflation currently at 9.4% and outstripping wage increases across many industries, millions will be on the move from this September onwards to secure a pay bump.

“Although the current economic landscape is challenging, amidst warnings of a looming recession from the Bank of England, UK workers should feel empowered to capitalise on the current labour market which continues to show high volumes of jobs being created.

“However, with inflation potentially rising to 13%, it could increasingly feel like workers are chasing after a galloping horse, with some workers having to take on a second or third job to keep up with the soaring cost-of-living increases. This could lead to a two-speed workforce with workers in some sectors falling behind others.

“It’s a tough situation where very few are benefiting, including employers who are facing a higher turnover of candidates than you’d typically expect in August with over 50% of workers considering a move.

“For employers, a failure to proactively ensure salary packages reflect current inflationary increases will have a significant impact on their business’s ability to attract and retain staff. Understandably, many may not feel in a financial position to deliver significant increases in pay. However, offering desired pay rises costs less than replacing workers and our research shows that the vast majority of candidates (87%) are poised to accept a counter offer from their current employer provided it meets expectations.

“During these challenging times, it’s clear that many workers – particularly those feeling the pinch from the cost-of-living crisis – deserve a pay rise. For most, the best way could be to secure a new job.”

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Pledge is greeted with cautious optimism

In an interview with The Sun on Sunday, Liz Truss’s promised to review IR35 if she becomes Prime Minister. Truss was quoted as saying, “The changes that have been made to IR35 are all about trying to treat the self-employed the same as big business. But the fact is, if you’re self-employed, you don’t get the same benefits as being in a big company. You don’t get paid holidays, you didn’t get those benefits. So the tax system should reflect that more.”

IR35 insurance specialist, Qdos, has cautiously welcomed Truss’s pledge.

Qdos CEO, Seb Maley, commented: “Promising a review into IR35 is a step in the right direction. It’s widely accepted that the IR35 legislation and the way HMRC enforces it is fundamentally flawed. Liz Truss must make a review a priority if she becomes Prime Minister. But this mustn’t be lip service or a tactic to win the votes of contractors for whom IR35 remains a massive issue.”

“It’s impossible to overlook the fact that we’ve been here before. IR35 has been reviewed multiple times in recent years, yet still the government have taken very little or no action whatsoever. So you’d forgive contractors and businesses impacted by the rules for taking Liz Truss’s pledge with a pinch of salt.

“Any review of IR35 needs to be independent and far-reaching. HMRC’s very own IR35 status tool is unreliable and inaccurate, which is a major risk to compliance. While the legislation is forcing genuinely self-employed contractors into zero rights employment – a situation where they pay tax as employees but don’t receive any employment rights in exchange. Having specialised in this legislation since its introduction in 2000, Qdos stands ready to contribute to any review.”

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“Do you get paid for training?” is top result

In an analysis of Google search data by LMS provider Digits, the most searched for employee training-related questions in the UK over the past 12 months were revealed.

Digits’ study showed that some of the most frequent queries about employee training stem from uncertainty around who is responsible for paying for the training and whether people will be paid while they are in training.

According to the research, the most Googled questions about employee training during the last 12 months in the UK are:

  • Do you get paid for training at work? – 480 average monthly searches
  • What is training and development? – 480
  • What employee training is required by law UK? – 210
  • What is off-the-job training? – 210
  • What is on-the-job training? – 210
  • Do I get paid for mandatory training UK? – 170
  • How often do day staff require fire training? – 140
  • What is staff training? – 140
  • Why is staff training important? – 140
  • How often do night staff require fire training? – 110
  • Should I be paid for mandatory online training UK? – 110

Thirty percent of the top 10 most frequently asked questions about workplace training and development mentioned the word ‘paid’. A further 22% of the top 108 questions contained the words’ pay’, ‘paid’, or ‘charge’.

While it isn’t possible to identify who is asking the questions, the wording can sometimes reveal whether the searchers are employers or employees. For example, people using the words’ employee(s)’ or ‘staff’ (which appeared in 34%of the top 108 training-related queries) are more likely to pose ‘how’ or ‘what’ questions. These are likely on behalf of their company or as part of their job to enhance their broader knowledge of planning and improving workplace training.

On the other hand, people using the words ‘I’, ‘my’, or ‘you’ (appearing in 24% of the top 108 training-related queries) are likely to be employees looking for answers to questions that affect them personally. These people ask ‘do’, ‘can’, or ‘should’ questions to find more ‘definitive’ answers.

Bradley Burgoyne, head of talent at Digits, commented: “Digits’ latest research sheds light on the types of questions that UK workers and their leaders want answers to and the information that they are lacking about staff training. What it highlights to me is that people do want to understand more about what training and development involves and how to make it work for them, which is great because training should benefit employees and organisations equally.

“It also shows that HR and L&D teams have a real opportunity to spearhead knowledge sharing within their organisation. Thanks to this new research, we know the most popular training questions that employees are asking. So, it’s up to employers to be more proactive in communicating the answers to these questions to their workforce.”

“If you were employed after 6 April 2020 your written terms must set out the training that you have to complete, including training your employer does not pay for. If you started before that date, you need to request clarification from your employer. It is, however, standard and best practice that employers pay for your time to complete this (eg your training is completed during your usual paid working hours, or you receive additional pay for the hours in which you complete this outside of your usual work pattern).

“If you’ve been asked by your employer to undertake some training that’s going to develop your skills and help you do your job better and more efficiently – then, again, it is best practice to be paid for the time that you spend on that training (in addition to your employer funding the cost for the training) as it’s also going to benefit the organisation that you work for. To ensure that you are paid for that time, the training should, ideally, happen within your usual working hours.

“It can be slightly more nuanced for employees that are enrolled on long programmes of training, such as degrees or MBAs. These types of training usually require a bit of give and take from both parties, and employees would typically be expected to use a certain amount of their personal time (unpaid) alongside any paid study time.

“It is common and healthy for employees to approach their employers with requests to undertake training, attend a course, or get a qualification in something that may or may not be relevant to their role. It’s then for both parties to work together to agree who will fund the training and what aspects of the training time will be paid or unpaid. Separately, it’s worth noting, that you do have a legal right to request time off from work to undertake study or training under Section 40 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, which employers have a duty to consider.

“In most instances, it’s important that both you and your employer get all the details and conditions set out in a learning agreement. This agreement should detail who is funding the training and what time off will be paid or unpaid, plus things like if travel expenses to attend the training and associated learning materials are covered. It should also include a clause about when an employee may have to repay the costs of their training if they leave the organisation within a certain timeframe before or after completing their course, which can also act as an effective retention method for employers.”

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Government and healthcare workers amongst the most concerned

With the cost of living constantly increasing and real UK wages falling at the fastest pace on record, making ends meet is a priority for many workers.

Research from Glassdoor reveals that 22% of UK workers are concerned about finding a job that supports the cost of living at the moment and that anxiety around this issue is on the increase.

An analysis of words used on Fishbowl by Glassdoor showed that mentions of “cost of living”,

“inflation”, “rent”, “petrol”, “accommodation”, and “bills” have increased by 67% year-on-year.

Over 700,000 Glassdoor reviews by UK-based employees were examined. The data revealed that negative mentions of “salary”, “pay”, and “compensation” increased by 16% since 2020.

The biggest increase in salary complaints was among government workers – up 26% from 2021. In the past, these workers were less inclined to discuss salary negatively. But, with public sector wage growth falling far behind the private sector, this is no longer the case, indicating a possible future exodus of government workers. Similarly, complaints about salary have also increased among healthcare workers.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, employees in the hospitality industry(restaurants, food service, travel, and accommodation) have seen unusually high pay growth, and salary complaints have dropped.

Lauren Thomas, Glassdoor’s EMEA Economist, said: “The only constant in 2022 is change -and skyrocketing prices. Even with high wage growth and a tight labour market, workers are feeling the pinch as inflation emerges as the biggest winner. With real wages falling a record 3.0 percent thanks to inflation, the cost of living is a priority for many job seekers.

“Job vacancies, which have hit record highs month after month, have started to fall but even now employers can’t rest easy. Hiring will remain difficult, particularly in industries like hospitality and healthcare where employees’ Glassdoor reviews show they feel overworked and underpaid.”

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