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Report on jobs: Pay pressures ease only slightly amid rising living costs

The latest KPMG and Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) ‘UK Report on Jobs’, compiled by S&P Global, reveals a muted confidence around the economic outlook is driving a steeper drop in permanent placements.

The KPMG and REC report provides the most comprehensive guide to the UK labour market, drawing on original survey data provided by UK recruitment consultancies and employers to provide the first indication each month of labour market trends.

Key findings of the report reveal that;  hiring activity across the UK continued to be dampened by a weak economic outlook and reduced confidence among businesses and permanent placements contracted at the quickest rate for just over three years, while temp billings growth weakened notably from June.

The overall availability of staff increased at a substantial pace amid the slowdown in recruitment and reports of redundancies. The latest upturn in total labour supply was the steepest recorded since October 2009 when excluding the pandemic period. While there were signs of pay pressures moderating again in July, permanent salaries continued to rise at a sharp pace overall. Total vacancy growth meanwhile slowed further, hitting a 29-month low in July.

A weaker economic climate and reduced market confidence weighed on recruitment activity during July, according to the data. Permanent staff appointments declined at the steepest pace for just over three years, as concerns over the outlook made clients hesitant to commit to new staff. Concurrently, growth in temp billings edged down to a fractional pace that was the slowest recorded since last October.

The survey cites faster increases in the supply of both temporary and permanent workers drove the sharpest upturn in overall labour supply since December 2020.

Competition for skilled candidates and the increased cost of living placed pressure on rates of starting pay during July. Salaries for newly-placed permanent workers rose sharply – despite the rate of inflation slipping to the lowest since April 2021. Temp pay increased at the softest pace in 29 months, albeit solidly overall.

Growth of demand for staff continued to moderate at the start of the third quarter. Total vacancies increased at the slowest pace in 29 months. The latest upturn in demand for permanent workers was the weakest seen over the current period of recovery that began in March 2021. Concurrently, the rate of short-term vacancy growth was among the slowest recorded over the past three years.

All four monitored English regions posted a decline in permanent placements, led by London. Divergent trends were seen for temp billings, which rose in the Midlands and London but fell in the North and South of England.

Hotel & Catering saw the steepest upturn in demand for temp workers of all 10 categories in July. Strong rates of vacancy growth were also noted for Engineering and Blue Collar personnel. The Construction and Secretarial/Clerical sectors saw modest drops in demand.

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New recommendations aim to combat discrimination

The Singaporean government has officially accepted the final recommendations put forth by the Tripartite Committee on Workplace Fairness (TCWF), aiming to enhance workplace fairness and protect employees from discrimination. The TCWF initially published 20 recommendations in an interim report in February 2023.

In collaboration with tripartite partners, including The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), the government is committed to implementing these recommendations starting in 2024.

The legislative framework, once enacted, will comprehensively cover all stages of employment, encompassing in-, post-, and pre-employment periods, with a special focus on addressing discrimination complaints that predominantly arise during the pre-employment phase, according to MOM.

The legislation aims to safeguard workers and jobseekers against unfair and discriminatory practices based on specific protected characteristics, namely nationality, age, sex, marital status, pregnancy status, caregiving responsibilities, race, language, religion, disability, and mental health conditions. However, it will not include provisions for sexual orientation, gender identity, and criminal history.

To refine the legislation further, the TCWF proposed two additional recommendations. Firstly, they suggested the importance of a clear definition for ‘discrimination’ to facilitate employers and employees in understanding the law’s coverage. In response, the committee recommended defining ‘discrimination’ as ‘making an adverse employment decision because of any protected characteristic’.

Secondly, the TCWF advised that the legislation should solely encompass direct acts of discrimination, as including indirect discrimination would impose extensive legal obligations on employers. Indirect discrimination refers to seemingly neutral company practices that unintentionally put individuals with specific protected characteristics at a disadvantage. The committee proposed that such cases be handled through the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, allowing employers and employees to find reasonable resolutions for disputes.

Additionally, the TCWF recommended the issuance of a Tripartite Advisory focusing on providing reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. The committee believed that mandating such accommodations through legislation might lead to a more litigious workplace environment. Instead, they suggested that the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) should intervene to achieve better outcomes for employees with disabilities and employers.

The government is mindful of keeping the legislation’s scope restricted for the time being, with the proposed characteristics covering 95% of all discrimination complaints received by MOM and TAFEP, offering protection to 75% of all workers in Singapore.

In tandem with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP), the legislation aims to provide comprehensive protection against all forms of discrimination. To allow smaller companies sufficient time to adapt to the changes and bolster their human resource capabilities, they will be exempted from the legislation for the first five years.

Minister of Manpower, Tan See Leng, emphasized that the Workplace Fairness Legislation (WFL) intends to prohibit common forms of discrimination experienced in Singapore, including age, sex, family status, race, nationality, and mental health. The approach seeks to provide redress to victims of discrimination while promoting workplace harmony and preserving relationships.

The TCWF believes that these recommendations will foster a positive workplace culture in Singapore, avoiding an overly litigious atmosphere. Nonetheless, the committee highlighted that the legislation alone cannot eradicate workplace discrimination, stressing the importance of education to challenge stereotypes and sustain fair employment practices.

The Singaporean government is committed to collaborating closely with its tripartite partners to implement these recommendations in 2024, fostering a fair and inclusive work environment for all.

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33% of UK accountants plan to leave the industry in the next five years

Despite a faltering economy, rising interest rates, supply chain issues, and the ongoing impacts of Brexit, many businesses operating within the sector reported optimism about their recruitment plans as they entered the third quarter of 2023. 44% are expecting to recruit more workers, displaying a +29% net positive hiring outlook.

Brook Street, part of ManpowerGroup, releases its 2023 Salary Guide for Businesses. The guide explores  UK hiring trends and salary rates for permanent and temporary employees in the Contact Centre, Business Administration and Support, and Accounting and Finance roles.

Around 80% of UK businesses are experiencing talent shortages with more than 1,000,000 unfilled job postings. As businesses remain unable or unwilling to meet employee salary expectations, workers are becoming reluctant to pursue vacancies – leading to difficulties in hiring.

33% of current UK accountants plan to leave the industry in the next five years, hiring conditions are proving difficult on a national level, with 102 candidates per job posting.  However, there are regional variations, in Belfast there are on average, 21 candidates per post compared to Tunbridge Wells (Kent) where there are 207 candidates per post.

The Brook Street salary guide indicates some notable variance, including a +189% difference between a temporary and permanent median salary for Accountancy roles in London. It also finds UK salary ranges can differ by region – for example, the highest paid permanent median salary was £61,300 p.a (in Reading), compared to the lowest paid at £22,000 p.a. (in Newcastle).

In Contact Centres and Customer Support (CC&CS), more than 75,000 workers are missing from the sector, due to the current cost of living crisis and low to moderate pay scales.  With a national average of 342 candidates per vacancy, hiring remains difficult but regional supply differences and differing salary levels reduce this number further, giving the employer less choice.  It takes an average of 51 days to fill vacancies in CC&CS – a significant contrast to other sectors such as Finance and Accounting which reports an average of 36 days per post.

Despite a potentially large pool of candidates, the Administration and Business Support final talent pool needs to be narrowly spread after salary, job location, and working conditions are factored in.   With it taking 35-38 days to fill vacancies, 12% of businesses in the sector say they cannot secure the support staff they need.

Leigh Passingham, Brand Leader, Brook Street said: “Business leaders who better understand hiring trends and compensation rates will make better hiring decisions in what is currently a hyper-competitive labour market. While there is no magic bullet that will quickly fix the UK’s talent shortages and reduce the various pressures being placed on both employers and candidates, we’re advising employers to use originality, adaptability and speed. Hiring speed is really the key – those employers with speed to placement will secure the best talent.”

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Dubai-based start-up offers tailored well-being solutions for MENA companies & employees

Lifemost, a Dubai-based platform specializing in corporate wellness programs, has successfully secured USD 650,000 in a pre-seed funding round, which was co-led by MENA-focused angel investors. The funds raised will be allocated to further enhance product development, intensify marketing efforts, and explore new partnership opportunities within the MENA market.

Lifemost’s B2B platform offers companies the means to provide their employees with easy access to a wide array of physical and mental health activities, all available through a single mobile app. The platform encompasses four distinct product categories, catering to different company requirements. These offerings include access to a network of studios for various activities and training, corporate events and team-building sessions, educational lectures and workshops on mindfulness and stress management, as well as a range of online courses and live fitness sessions featuring over 350 pre-recorded classes. The platform is customizable, allowing businesses to tailor the content to meet their specific objectives. Employees can effortlessly book services and classes using the Lifemost membership app, while companies have specialized access to manage their employees’ corporate wellness programs.

Dennis Yudchitz, the CEO and founder of Lifemost, emphasizes the significance of corporate well-being activities for companies in terms of recruitment, sustainability, and employee motivation. By tailoring the platform’s content to suit each company’s unique needs, Lifemost aims to provide employees with diverse wellness options, while offering top management and HR professionals an all-in-one wellness solution with continuous analytics on engagement rates.

Initially conceived with the vision of fostering a healthier and more productive lifestyle among employees, Lifemost now boasts an extensive portfolio of 1,000+ activities spread across Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These activities are accessible through over 120 locations, with plans to expand to 300 locations by the year’s end.

Recent data highlights that 83% of employees consider their well-being to be as crucial as their salary, yet 36% of employees do not feel that their employers prioritize their well-being. This underscores the need for novel solutions in recruitment and work performance, particularly for high-level employees and specialists.

Research on corporate well-being market trends reveals that companies implementing wellness programs enjoy several benefits, including an average of 28% less absenteeism, 30% lower healthcare costs, and a 15% increase in productivity. The global well-being industry is experiencing significant growth, with consumers worldwide increasingly investing in wellness, driving the market size to surpass $4.4 trillion, and annual growth rates ranging from 5 to 10 per cent. Notably, the Middle East’s wellness industry is witnessing stable growth and is estimated to be valued at over $108 billion. In the UAE, the online health and fitness market is projected to contribute $36.5 million by 2025. Additionally, the global wellness industry is forecast to reach almost $7 trillion by 2025.

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London has the most graduate jobs – but at the expense of a higher cost of living

A new survey has revealed the top 10 best UK cities for job-hunting graduates. Bradford came out as the top city – based on the cost of living and accommodation prices.  London came out top with the most job opportunities, with an average of 4,966 graduate jobs – but ranked bottom of the list for graduate cities due to the high cost of living.

Comparethemarket analysed which UK cities offer the best opportunities for graduates, taking into account; rental prices, job opportunities, living costs, the number of 21-30-year-olds within the community and not forgetting beer prices.

Bradford boasts low living costs in comparison to other locations analysed in the study, with average rent prices of just £463.12 a month and around 792 graduate jobs, a meal out at an inexpensive restaurant will set a graduate back around £10, with a pint of beer costing £3, and a cappuccino just £2.52.

Kingston-upon-Hull, ranked second, with the cheapest rent of all cities analysed, with an average of £391.25 a month – but only had 142 graduate jobs on offer, the city has a low cost of living, with beers costing £3 a pint and an average meal out costing £10.25.

In joint third place are Lancashire’s Preston and Blackpool, and rounding off the top five are Wolverhampton and Newport in terms of job opportunities. Following behind is Manchester, with 1,345 jobs, and Birmingham came in third with 914 graduate jobs.

Although London offers the highest number of graduate jobs, it ranks as the most unaffordable place to live due to the high cost of living. Average rent prices in the capital are around £1,442.38 a month, meals out costing an average of £17, beers priced at £6 per pint, and transport passes costing an average of £160 a month. Despite London’s high living costs, graduates won’t be alone with nearly 1.5 million (1,436,899) 21-30-year-olds living in the city.

Bristol also ranks toward the bottom of the list, due to a high cost of living. The average rental price for a one-bed apartment in Bristol is around £888 a month, while the average pint of beer costs £4.50 and a meal out is around £15. Rounding off the bottom five are Reading, Edinburgh, and Southend-on-Sea.

The full report can be found here:

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UK leads the way with maternity pay

Data from EDGE Certified Foundation provides an overview of the legislative landscape relating to Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I) in certain countries, shedding light on the progress made as well as pinpointing areas to be improved.

EDGE Certified Foundation has published the EquiNations DE&I legislative overview of the top 20 countries – based on the highest number of current EDGE Certifications; including the UK, USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada and China.

The EquiNations research shows that the vast majority of the 20 researched countries have implemented legislation to safeguard against discrimination in employment based on gender, race/ethnicity, nationality, LGBTQ+ identity, age, or working with a disability.

Certain jurisdictions have progressed beyond the legislative recognition of the importance of eradicating all kinds of discrimination in the workplace, and have taken a proactive approach by implementing, for example, hiring quotas for people with disabilities and workplace accessibility requirements, by setting paid maternity and paternity leave above the recommended level of the International Labor Organization (ILO), or by mandating recurrent pay gap reporting, aiming to manage and eventually close the gender pay gap.

Key findings from the EquiNations research cite that the majority of countries examined have implemented hiring quotas for individuals with disabilities, with exceptions including the US, UK, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, and Australia.​

Most countries analysed have legislation against LGBTQ+ employment discrimination already in place, but less than half of the countries have implemented legislation to ensure gender quotas on company boards.​

The UK leads the way with the highest amount of paid maternity leave (in weeks), with 39, while the USA has the lowest by offering no paid maternity leave. Germany has the highest employment rate for individuals aged 55-64, standing at 73.69%. Whereas, Romania has the lowest rate at 48.4%.​

The EDGE Certified organisations within these nations are setting important benchmarks within their national contexts, by committing to measure where they are in their DE&I journey and to progress on their path to workplace gender and intersectional equity. Such organisations can serve to inspire other employers within their jurisdictions to follow suit by adopting best practices, engaging with their employees and stakeholders, and seeking out the diverse perspectives and experiences that are indispensable for achieving true inclusivity.

 Aniela Unguresan, Founder of EDGE Certified Foundation, said: “Organisations looking to adopt DE&I policies and practices for their workplaces need to understand how local legislation and regulation impacts the workplace, and where there may be areas to go beyond regulation to support long-term sustainable value creation in the DE&I area. We can see that all the countries in the top 20 list by number of current EDGE Certifications have made great progress in promoting DE&I nationally, by enacting certain anti-discrimination laws and labour protections.”

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EEOC ensures tech access for disabilities

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently issued updated guidance concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its application to individuals with visual disabilities. The aim is to emphasize the importance of ensuring that new technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) are accessible to all candidates and employees.

According to the news release, the updated guidance requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations for decision-making tools utilizing algorithms or AI, particularly in the hiring process. This may involve alternative testing formats that better assess a candidate’s ability to perform the job. Employers are also encouraged to disclose information about how the technology evaluates applicants or employees and provide instructions on how to request an accommodation.

EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows asserted that providing reasonable accommodations is an employer’s responsibility, particularly for workers with vision impairments. The goal is to equip these individuals with the necessary resources to succeed in the workplace.

Under the ADA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants and employees with disabilities, whether visible or invisible, such as vision or hearing impairments, chronic fatigue, diabetes, or depression. The law also mandates that reasonable accommodations be provided to facilitate equal opportunities for everyone.

The EEOC has been actively adapting existing regulations to address the challenges presented by new and evolving workplace technologies. In January, they updated their guidance on workers with hearing disabilities, specifically addressing videoconferencing software and the potential need for voice-to-text translation services as an accommodation.

Furthermore, federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, U.S. Department of Justice, and Federal Trade Commission collaborated to clarify how existing laws apply to emerging technologies like AI. Additionally, in May, the EEOC provided guidance on auditing AI systems to avoid discrimination.

In summary, the EEOC’s recent updates aim to promote inclusivity and accessibility in the workplace by ensuring that new technologies and AI do not hinder the opportunities and success of candidates and employees with disabilities.

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Job seekers prioritize higher salaries and remote work options

According to a recent report released on July 27 by Robert Half, a prominent talent solutions and business consulting firm, a quarter of the workforce is actively seeking new job opportunities, indicating a positive outlook for the job market in the remainder of 2023.

The survey, which involved 2,500 U.S. workers, revealed that an additional 24% are planning to embark on a job search by the year’s end. When combining these figures, it amounts to 49% of workers considering a job change, a noticeable increase from 41% during the third and fourth quarters of 2022.

Dawn Fay, the operational president of Robert Half, emphasized the significance of this data for employers, particularly those grappling with recruitment challenges. She stated that skilled workers are eager to seize the right opportunity when presented to them.

The primary motivation cited by job seekers in the survey was a higher salary, followed by improved benefits and remote work options. Additionally, about 40% of workers expressed openness to contract roles.

On the other hand, certain factors were noted as likely to cause workers to lose interest in a job and withdraw from the application process. These included poor communication and follow-up from hiring managers, excessive rounds of interviews, and a protracted hiring procedure.

The study also highlighted specific groups more prone to making career moves in 2023. Gen Z workers topped the list, followed by technology professionals, working parents, and employees with two to four years of tenure at their current companies.

For both recruitment and retention efforts, pay emerged as a pivotal factor. A recent survey indicated that more than three-fourths of U.S. companies intend to increase salaries in 2024. However, the average expected increase is 3.8%, slightly lower than the 4% increase witnessed this year.

Dawn Fay stressed the importance of competitive pay and benefits, along with fostering a work culture that promotes employee well-being and professional growth. She advised that efficiency and openness to negotiation play critical roles in attracting top talent.

As the job market continues to evolve, companies that embrace these insights and adapt accordingly are likely to thrive in attracting and retaining skilled employees.”

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June 2023 sees increase to 3.6%

Statistics New Zealand reported that New Zealand’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the June 2023 quarter increased to 3.6% from 3.3% a year ago. This 0.3% rise was higher than the 0.2% increase seen in the previous quarter (March 2022).

Economists had anticipated a slightly lower unemployment rate of 3.5%, but the Reserve Bank had already taken measures to control inflation, which led to an economic slowdown and the expectation of a further rise in the jobless rate.

The underutilisation rate, a broader measure encompassing unemployed, underemployed, and those in the potential labor force, rose by 0.7% over the year, reaching 9.8% in the June quarter. This was an increase from 9.1% in the prior quarter.

Despite the recent quarterly increase, the June 2023 underutilisation rate remains relatively low compared to historical averages, as stated by Becky Collett, the senior manager of work and wellbeing statistics.

On a positive note, the number of people employed increased by 113,000 (4.0%) to a total of 2,927,000 in the year to the June 2023 quarter. This led to a record high employment rate of 69.8%, the highest since the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) began in 1986. The employment rate also grew by 0.3% over the quarter.

Furthermore, the labour force participation rate reached 72.4% in the same period, which was the highest ever recorded by the HLFS since its inception in 1986. It witnessed a 1.5% increase over the year and a 0.4% increase over the quarter.

Over the year to the June 2023 quarter, the number of people not in the labor force decreased by 36,000, contributing to a total labor force increase of 127,000.

In the same period, the working-age population grew by 91,000, encompassing all usually resident individuals aged 15 and over, regardless of their current participation in the labor force.

Regarding wages, all salary and wage rates, including overtime, remained constant at 4.3% as measured by the labor cost index over the year to the June 2023 quarter. However, average ordinary time hourly earnings in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) showed a notable increase of 6.9% during the same period.

Meanwhile, average total weekly earnings, which include overtime and are measured by the QES, rose by 6.4% in the year to the June 2023 quarter.

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Survey highlights the importance of inclusive language in neurodiverse workforces

A new survey reveals 75% of respondents disliked the term ‘disabled people’, instead noting a preference for ‘person-first’ language, such as ‘people living with a disability’ or ‘people with a disability.’

87% of respondents with dyslexia oppose the term ‘dyslexics’, in comparison to 71% of respondents preferring to be referred to as ‘people with dyslexia’. Additionally, respondents indicated a preference for ‘dyspraxia’ over ‘developmental coordination disorder’ (DCD), with 92% voting in favour of ‘dyspraxia.’

Exceptional Individuals, the UK’s first employment agency for the neurodiverse community, conducted ‘The Exceptional Individuals Language Consultation Report’ to highlight the need for inclusive language when referring to neurodiverse individuals within the workplace.

Respondents with ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia favoured ‘person-first’ language by 88.9%, 65.5% and 71% respectively. The term ‘neurodivergence’ (40%) was preferred over ‘condition’ (34%), ‘difference’ (20%), or ‘disorder’ (6%). ‘Disorder’ saw the lowest number of votes, with one person noting that they “very much dislike the words ‘disorder’ and ‘ condition’”, and another stating “I use ADHD because people understand what that is. However, I really hate the word disorder.”

A recent study reported that 65% of neurodivergent employees fear discrimination from management within the workplace, whilst 55% fear discrimination from colleagues. 40% of respondents also claimed there are not enough knowledgeable staff to help. In addition, the report revealed all neurodivergent employees reported low levels of well-being – highlighting the importance of ensuring that all members of staff use inclusive language.

Matt Boyd, Founder of Exceptional Individuals, said: “The meaning of a word can evolve over time. Some good words turn bad. Some bad words turn good. So it’s important that we stay vigilant of what is and isn’t considered acceptable language within our communities. But change doesn’t happen overnight. Our findings make clear that there is no specific, ‘correct’, language we should all be using, but rather that we need to respect individual preferences to be truly inclusive.”

Fintan O’Toole, HR expert and Owner of The HR Dept said: “Employers need to embrace the different skills and competencies that they have in their workforce and to explore individual development plans for all staff regardless of their apparent abilities. What may at the outset present itself as an obstacle may well be a strength that can be built on for both the employer and the employee. All staff should be made to feel welcome in the workplace.”

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