Tag: Covid-19

Manpower Group recently launched Talent Solutions, combining three of its offerings. TI sat down with Talent Solutions to learn more about the launch of their Talent Solutions Brand in 2021 and how it came about. Here’s what they had to say.  

TI: Can you tell me a little more about Talent Solutions (size, number of employees, locations served etc)? 

With 40+ years of experience delivering client-focused, technology enabled, innovative workforce solutions to the market, Talent Solutions delivers expertise to organisations across the talent lifecycle.  

We manage over £10 billion of spend in our Managed Service Programmes; we deliver 250+ Recruitment Process Outsourcing solutions to clients around the world; and we’re supporting some of the world’s largest organisations on their journey towards Total Talent Management. 

Our ability to capitalise on new thinking, new workforce models and new possibilities has made us the most recognised and respected workforce solutions provider in the world – as benchmarked by leading industry analysts. 

Across the UK, we have over 550 people working for Talent Solutions, with offices in Altrincham, Bristol, London, Edinburgh and Southampton, as well as client sites throughout the UK. 

TI: ManpowerGroup recently launched Talent Solutions (combining three of its offerings). What was the company’s reasoning behind that? 

Talent Solutions combines three of ManpowerGroup’s global offerings – RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing), TAPFIN MSP (Managed Service Provider) and Right Management – providing innovative solutions and end-to-end, data-driven capabilities across the talent lifecycle through one brand.  

TI: What opportunities does the new offering bring to the group? 

This new combination of offerings will leverage deep industry expertise and a strong understanding of what talent wants, delivering new solutions to address organisations’ complex global workforce needs. 

TI: Were there any challenges when it came to launching it? 

Talent Solutions was introduced in the UK on the 31st March 2020, a week after the UK was put into lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, we took the decision to adjust our plans in the UK, taking a much lower-key approach to the introduction of the new brand.  

Whilst this wasn’t how we envisioned sharing the new brand, it was appropriate given the difficult times everyone was facing. Since then, we have been working on raising awareness of our new brand and the value we can bring to our clients.  

TI: What makes this offering unique? 

With the combination of RPO, TAPFIN MSP and Right Management, Talent Solutions is able to provide seamless delivery of end-to-end workforce solutions that help clients to navigate risk, cost, efficiency and quality while facing changing and uncertain markets.  

Employer brand 

TI: How has the company been developing its employer brand in recent years? 

With the launch of Talent Solutions, we’ve introduced new imagery which focuses on learnability and the opportunity for individuals from all backgrounds to progress in the organisation. Across the wider business, we highlight the breadth of opportunity for new experiences across the organisation, whether that’s with our different ManpowerGroup brands, or working directly with our clients across the UK. 

TI: What role does employer brand play in the attraction and retention of talent? 

An effective employer brand strategy is one of the most important aspects of a successful recruiting function and we believe that this will become even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To build a compelling employer brand, you should focus on being authentic in sharing communication of your purpose and the connection that you develop with your candidates, and being consistent in your communication and approach with every candidate. 

Attracting and retaining talent 

TI: What are you looking for in a potential member of staff for your team? 

Whilst knowledge of the industry is an important attribute, with any new employee, we look for individuals with high levels of learnability and adaptability. This increases the likelihood that they can adapt to new opportunities and changing environments and job requirements. 

Given the size of our organisation and the different brand structures, it’s also vital that a potential member of staff demonstrates a positive attitude to team working. A collaborative approach helps to drive better results in our business. 

We also don’t just recruit those with experience working for recruitment organisations, considering the relevance of their external knowledge to our market and the market of our clients. 

TI: How does the company go about attracting emerging talent? 

We have a wonderful Talent Team that operates across ManpowerGroup, helping us to attract the right talent for our organisation. In 2021, we also launched our internal talent academy, designed to bring people with no experience of recruitment into the business, put them through an initial training programme and support them as they start their career with ManpowerGroup. 

TI: How does the company use training and development to retain staff? 

We’re very fortunate that ManpowerGroup puts a considerable amount of investment into training and development to help employees progress in their careers.  

As well as having access to an extensive library of online training, we also offer our employees access to Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships as well as leadership programmes with organisations such as Harvard Business School and INSEAD. 

Outsourced hiring 

TI: What benefits does outsourced hiring bring to a company? 

Run correctly, outsourced hiring can offer companies a number of benefits. At Talent Solutions, we focus on providing customers with greater predictability and flexibility of costs, a more efficient recruitment process, an improved candidate experience and importantly, improved talent quality.  

TI: How do you ensure you’re delivering maximum value to your clients? 

Across ManpowerGroup, we focus on the 4 B’s – Build, Buy, Borrow and Bridge – when working to develop effective talent strategies and deliver maximum value for our clients. Each stage involves: 

  • Build – Invest in learning and development to grow your talent pipeline 
  • Buy – Go to the external market to find the best talent that cannot be built in-house in the timeframe required 
  • Borrow – Cultivate communities of talent outside the organisation, including part-time, freelance, contract and temporary workers to complement existing skills 
  • Bridge – Help people move on and move up to new roles inside or outside the organisation 

Enhancing hiring 

TI: Where do you think improvements are needed in the hiring process? 

One of the areas that we see most frequently which needs improving is how organisations manage their silver medallists through the hiring process. Whilst that individual may not be the best candidate for the specific role businesses are hiring for at the time, companies could benefit from reviewing whether there are any other suitable roles for them in the organisation. If nothing is available, then they should be kept on file (subject to data restrictions) for any future relevant roles. 

Crucial here, as with all hiring, is getting the candidate experience right. This is often something which is neglected in our busy work environments. Candidates are ultimately consumers too, so even if they’re not the right fit to work in your organisation, they may still be a customer, but only if you treat them with respect throughout the process. Introducing technology at the right stages of the hiring process can help you to streamline the process more effectively, allowing more time to provide the human touch.  

TI: How could technology be used to enhance hiring further? 

From Robotic Process Automation, to our Talent Solutions PowerSuite, which creates the flexibility to tailor our offerings to meet evolving client and candidate needs, we’re continuously developing our technology capabilities and working with our partners to provide clients and candidates with the best technology to support their hiring processes.  

Some of the key areas where we see further opportunities to enhance the hiring process using technology are through improved use of chatbots, On-Demand Interviewing and Search and Match technology. 

Hiring trends 

TI: What hiring trends has the company been witnessing recently? 

The most obvious trend having an impact on hiring at the moment are the talent shortages we’re seeing across the board. We’re seeing a continued increase in hiring intentions, with a 30 year high of +32% (ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, Jan 2022). However, in many cases, clients are unable to meet their hiring needs due to a shortage of talent. We’re working closely with our clients to help them find the skills they need, by thinking differently about their talent strategies.  

TI: How do hiring trends and patterns differ across the countries you operate in? 

Operations in each country are assessing the changing trends in every location to make sure they are aligned to the customer needs.  

TI: What is Talent Solutions doing to counter skills shortages in certain sectors? 

Talent Solutions has a number of different solutions to support clients facing skills shortages. We support our clients to develop talent pipeline management, to ensure they have the individuals they need, when they need them. This can be done through a range of techniques including bridging their current employees into other areas of the business through training or providing Employed Consultants. Employed Consultants are highly skilled specialists who are permanently employed by Experis (part of ManpowerGroup), and then supplied on an interim basis.  

We also work with clients to build Train to Fit programmes, taking individuals who already have a range of technical and functional skills which are valuable to their business, and have the aptitude to develop further. We create a training programme in partnership with the client, helping individuals advance their knowledge to the right level and meet the needs of the role over an agreed period of time.  

On top of these solutions, Talent Solutions also has the benefit of skills development programmes across the wider ManpowerGroup business, including the MyPath programme in Manpower, which helps associates upskill and develop along their career path. MyPath associates are provided with personalised guidance, career development, training and continuous access to jobs – helping them to achieve their ambitions and meet employers’ needs today and in the future.  

Diversity and inclusion 

TI: Are companies doing enough to be truly diverse and inclusive? 

There is always room for improvement in this area. But it’s clear that businesses are waking up to the need to be truly diverse and inclusive. It’s now on the agenda for every leadership team, with many businesses taking big steps towards active inclusion, rather than just paying lip service. At ManpowerGroup, we created seven steps to conscious inclusion in the workplace: 

  1. Change yourself first 
  1. Leadership has to own it; don’t delegate it 
  1. Flip the question – ask, “Why Not?” 
  1. Hire people who value people 
  1. Promote a culture of conscious inclusion: programmes alone don’t work 
  1. Be explicit; when and where?  
  1. Be accountable; set measurable and achievable outcomes 

Managed correctly, one of the potential opportunities to come out of recent turbulence could be the removal of some of the barriers to the workplace for more diverse groups. For example, the increased acceptance of remote working and flexible hours could help businesses to become more inclusive for those with care responsibilities. 

TI: What is Talent Solutions doing to support improvements in this (both internally and for clients)? 

We’re working with our clients to share advice around implementing the seven steps to conscious inclusion. We’re also advising them on strategies for reaching and attracting diverse groups when advertising for new roles. 

We’ve also recently strengthened our commitment to inclusion and diversity globally, committing to: 

  • Reaching our primary global diversity goal of 40% female leadership by 2024 
  • Investing in our inclusive culture to retain and develop diverse talent 
  • Advancing employment security for the long-term; reskilling, upskilling and improving wellbeing and employability for all 

In the UK, we’ve also launched our Supplier Diversity Initiative, a commitment to developing relationships with diverse suppliers who enhance the solutions we offer to our clients. We will be supporting diverse suppliers to accelerate their growth and ability to succeed in the marketplace, as well as helping others to become more diverse and inclusive. The result is optimal client solutions and partnerships within a world of diverse and high-performing talent. 

Looking to the future 

TI: What are your plans for the company over the year ahead? 

As building talent increases in importance in workforce planning and development, we will continue to support our clients and candidates through the further development of our Academy offerings – ensuring that we are upskilling individuals for the jobs of the future and providing the skills that our clients need to grow and progress. 

Using our expertise in ESG, we’ll enhance our support for clients around Diversity, Equality and Inclusion, helping them to improve in these vital areas at the same time as accessing potentially untapped talent pools as part of the strategy for overcoming skills shortages.  

In response to ongoing volatile market conditions, we’ll also continue to increase the flexibility of our solutions, using our Centres of Recruitment Excellence (CoRE) to ramp requirements up and down as needed and supporting across the Total Talent Management lifecycle. Our Agile RPO solutions will continue to expand, meeting the need for short to medium term support for internal recruitment teams. 

We will also continue to work with our new and existing clients to help them meet changing workforce requirements post COVID-19.  

TI: What outsourced hiring trends do you expect to see in the year(s) ahead? (Will there be an increase in in-house hiring?)  

With the increased pace of change in customer demands impacting upon workforce strategies, we anticipate an increased need for businesses to speak to external experts for advice to help them continue to run their organisations as efficiently as possible. This will provide them with an outside in perspective from people who have a view of the wider market.  

Understandably, we also expect to see demand for flexibility from candidates continue, as many will have experienced the potential benefits during lockdown.  

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REC says employers need to rethink hiring processes to mitigate skills shortages 

According to a survey conducted by the REC’s JobsOutlook, business confidence in the UK economy fell by 9%.  

This is the first time since February/ April 2021 that the barometer has fallen into the negative, indicating that confidence in the economy is waning. Uncertainty around rising inflation, labour shortages and the Omicron variant has increased over the past three months and this appears to the be the reason for the drop.  

Business confidence in making hiring and investment decisions continued to improve with a higher proportion of firms saying their prospects were still improving. However, that growth in confidence weakened slightly, falling by two percentage points to net: +11.  

According to the survey, growing uncertainty has led to an increase in demand for temporary workers increasing to net: +15 for the next three months; with demand for the next 4 to 12 months also rising by nine points to net to +14. 

Hiring intentions for permanent staff remained robust at net: +21, both in the short term and in the medium term. 

The survey also reported that in November, shortly after the end of the furlough scheme, 51% of employers had seen no change in the availability of candidates for vacancies.  

Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC, commented: “While the next few weeks are likely to be bumpy, we anticipate a highly competitive labour market in early 2022. There will be particularly high demand for temporary work, which helps businesses to manage uncertainty and keep people in work during tough times. Firms will have to look seriously at their recruitment process and their offer to candidates to attract the staff they need. Recruiters are ideally positioned to help with this.” 

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Employers to carefully consider vaccination policies

New COVID-19 restrictions came into force on 13 December, effectively sending workers back to working from home, if they’re able. But can the businesses that need employees in the workplace force them to be vaccinated?

Damian Kelly, partner and head of the employment law practice at Lodders Solicitors weighed in: “Other than employers of care home staff, employers have no legislative right to require staff to be vaccinated. In other sectors, employers who try to mandate staff vaccinations are running a high risk of Employment Tribunal claims, including claims for unlawful discrimination.”

“Increasingly, employers are seeing value in introducing Vaccination Policies which, whilst falling short of requiring mandatory vaccinations, encourage their staff to get vaccinated and set out various means by which they will be supported in doing so.”

“For care homes and their staff, The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 were approved on 22nd July 2021, and made it mandatory for a person working or providing professional services in a care home to have the COVID-19 vaccine from the 11th of November 2021.

Damien added: “Employers should give careful consideration to the drafting of a Vaccination Policy and the way in which it is communicated and implemented across their workforces. Important issues for consideration are likely to include timing, confidentiality, time off measures and fair procedures for dismissals should they be necessary.”

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71% of employers believe pandemic will mean continued wellbeing support

The emergence of another COVID-19 variant has meant employers head in to 2022 with yet more uncertainty.

But GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector, offers three employee benefit related New Year’s resolutions that make good business sense during the unpredictability of a pandemic:

  1. Think the unthinkable

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the old ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude as most people have had to face up to the fact that it could. For an employer, unthinkable questions could be, ‘What will happen to the business if we lose a key person?’, ‘Can the business afford to pay out for a death or for long-term sick leave?’ and ‘What sort of help should the business provide?’.

If these questions set any alarm bells ringing then it is probably time to make some relatively inexpensive changes to an organisation’s benefits package or to the insurance in place to protect members of staff and the business against financial loss.

  1. Choose to be a nurturing employer

A valued employee will be engaged and productive which is good for business. Employers who take this approach to staff will have little to fear from the much talked about ‘Great Resignation’. However, if employees are re-evaluating what they want out of life and work, as many are, and if they don’t see their employer as having been particularly supportive during the pandemic, they may look elsewhere.

Three quarters (73%) of employers believe the pandemic will mean long-term changes in the way they support the health and wellbeing of staff, with 71% of employers believing the pandemic will mean a continued uplift in checking in with staff as a way to support them.

  1. Shout it out

If an employer has put measures in place to both protect and nurture its staff, it needs to be bolder in communicating this support so that staff can derive maximum benefit from everything that is in place.

If employees are pointed in the right direction and communications are little and often, then they remember to use the support and help when they most need it.

In addition, developing an external communications strategy is also important in order to win the attention of an organisation’s next generation of employees.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: “If a business is doing great things for its people in terms of looking after them in the present and protecting them from unknown future events, then they need to shout about it. This, in turn, drives engagement and appreciation which aids productivity, attraction and retention.

“I’m sure all employers had hoped to be heading in to the new year without the ongoing threat from the COVID-19 virus but as it looks like we could be in for another bumpy ride in 2022, employers would be wise to focus their New Year’s resolutions around their virus-weary staff.”

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But will Omicron undo gains made in the economy?  

According to the latest unemployment stats released by ONS, there were 29.4m employees in the UK. This is an increase of 257,000 on revised October 2021 figures and up 424,000 on pre-pandemic February 2020 figures.

However, ONS stated that redundancies made at the end of the furlough scheme could be included in the Real Time Information (RTI) data for a few more months. But responses to the business survey, stated that redundancy numbers are likely to be a small number of those employees still on furlough at the end of September.

The latest Labour Force Survey indicates that employment rose by 0.2 percentage points from August to October with the number of part-time workers decreasing dramatically during the pandemic.

Decreasing employment rates among young people (those aged 16 to 24 years) have been notable during the pandemic, with unemployment and economic inactivity rates increasing by more than for those aged 25 years and over. But according to the survey, there was an increase in the employment rate and a decrease in the unemployment rate to below pre-coronavirus rates.

Numbers of job vacancies continued to rise to a new record of 1,219m jobs – that is an astounding increase of 434,500 from pre-COVID figures of January to March of 2020.

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), commented: “The issue of labour shortages is hugely challenging for employers right now, as vacancies continue to hit new highs and unemployment remains low. But the real elephant in the room is rising inactivity and a smaller UK workforce – people either not in the UK or not looking for work. Reflecting this, overall hours worked are still well below our pre-pandemic numbers. This is a huge challenge to business and government. New approaches to recruitment and workforce planning are needed – and genuine partnership between government and employers on skills, unemployment support and sensible immigration rules.

“We don’t know yet how the Omicron variant will affect the jobs market, but it is clear that supporting businesses to retain staff and maintain cashflow was a successful strategy in 2020, and we may need to dust off those plans again if we are headed for a longer period of restrictions.”

James Reed, chairman of Reed, also commented: “There’s been plenty of talk from doomsayers that the Omicron variant will plunge us back into economic despair, but the outlook appears much more optimistic now compared with the first COVID-19 wave we faced in March 2020.”

He continued: “While some may want you to think the omicron variant has tipped the battle against COVID-19 in the virus’s favour, the reality is that, according to our jobs data, there are better opportunities and better negotiations for workers to have with employers than ever before. It’s currently the best time in fifty years to look for a new job and I’d urge anyone thinking of a change in career to begin their search for a fresh start in the new year.”

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Staff still leave current roles for bigger wages

Employers are facing the worst candidate shortage on record but according to research from international recruitment agency Aspire, two thirds (65%) of people currently working are either searching for or are open to new roles. This will offer hope to hiring businesses.

Employers have, however, been advised to plan for a potential ‘great resignation’, which is likely to see existing workers move jobs if businesses aren’t able to meet the changing needs of staff.

Nearly 600 candidates working across a range of industries from creative to marketing, technology and sales, took part in the study which explored the key issues facing the labour market in the wake of the pandemic.

But this data also serves as an important reminder to businesses about the need to cater for employees’ evolving job requirements, in order to hold onto workers, explained Aspire founder, Paul Farrer: “Given the sheer number of job vacancies right now it’s crucial that employers have a plan in place not only to win this fiercely competitive war for talent but also to retain their current workers. As we have seen with the petrol crisis, an inability to secure talent can result in organisations ceasing to function.”

Paul Farrer made further comment: “Salary is often the first consideration for people when they are prompted, but it’s much more complex than that. The pandemic created a perfect storm. People who may have otherwise moved jobs in 2020 stayed put due to COVID-19 uncertainty. So 2021 sees two years’ worth of employees seeking change. Salary freezes and stalled promotional prospects in 2020 are also playing out. We are witnessing wage inflation across many sectors too, with employers having seen their staff leave for significant rises elsewhere.

“In this environment, smaller, independent organisations have the advantage over larger businesses to a degree. They benefit from agility and are able to move swiftly, make critical hiring and salary decisions there and then. But our research shows that it’s not all about the money. Flexible working policies, a clear and realistic progression path and a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important to jobseekers.”

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Businesses need to do all they can to keep staff amidst skill shortages

A survey by CV-Library has revealed that 46% of workers are feeling uncomfortable around unvaccinated colleagues. According to the survey of 2,000 professionals, a massive 58.5% of UK employees want to know if their colleagues have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and a further 58.8% would speak to their manager about it.

A third (32.4%) of respondents admitted that they would consider changing jobs rather than work with a colleague who hadn’t been vaccinated against the virus.

Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library comments: “With the Government warning of a tough winter ahead and many UK professionals returning to the workplace, in some capacity, it’s understandable that staff want to remain as safe as possible. However, this presents a unique challenge for business owners and managers.”

“Whilst staff safety should be the ultimate priority, it’s also important that employees who have chosen to not get the COVID-19 vaccine aren’t discriminated against. It’s a fine balance and, with the current record job postings and staff shortages, businesses need to do all they can to keep hold of their staff and ensure that they’re both happy and comfortable in the workplace.”

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75% of companies have suffered confidence-damaging cyber-attacks

A new report by FTI Consulting indicates that more companies are coming under scrutiny for their business practises and behaviour.

The top three areas of investigation worries are: business conduct and the treatment of customers, sustainability and ESG practices, and the relationship with public bodies and government contracts. According to the report, a quarter of UK respondents identified each of these areas as major concerns. The services sector and financial sector were the most likely to report experiencing regulatory or political scrutiny over the past 12 months (23% each).

Potential emerging crises

 According to The Resilience Barometer the nature, severity and potential trajectory of these threats are forcing companies to embed resilience on more fronts:

Growing cybersecurity threats: 75% of companies surveyed suffered a cyber-attack in the past 12 months, with a rise in phishing attacks among the most prevalent type with 25% experiencing a loss of customer/patient data, and a further 23% reporting a loss of third-party information.

Class actions and mass consumer claims: 13% of respondents experienced these in the past 12 months, and 12% expect this to continue in the next 12 months.

The “Great Resignation”: Over the last 12 months, 28% of companies surveyed have experienced a shortage of talent and skills, and 72% have reported increased mental health issues in their workforce since the start of the pandemic.

Edward Westerman, Global Investigations Initiative Leader at FTI Consulting commented: “The ever-changing landscape will put the onus on companies to take a proactive stance regarding investigations. Leveraging new technologies and data and analytics can help companies efficiently manage an ongoing investigation and help mitigate the risk of future crises.”

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Last week may have begun with Freedom Day but it’s been anything but for many workers around the country thanks to what has been dubbed the ‘pingdemic’.

A survey by independent job board CV-Library revealed that more than a third (39.9%) of workers knew someone who had been unable to return to work due to being required to isolate.

More than 600,000 people were pinged by the NHS’s Covid-19 app in the week to July 14, meaning they were advised to stay home and quarantine for 10 days. It was the highest weekly figure so far and was up 19% on the previous week.

The CV-Library survey of more than 1,300 UK professionals found that a whopping 69.8% of those isolating were doing so after having been notified via the Covid-19 app.

The huge number of people in quarantine has led to worker shortages across a number of industries, with supermarkets such as Iceland and Lidl reporting significant impacts on their operations. Royal Mail and London Underground services have also been affected, with the latter having shut down the Metropolitan Line for an entire day recently after staff were pinged.

Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library, said: “Keeping staff safe should be the highest priority for employers across the country. However, such huge disruptions to staffing will cause countless problems for the recovery of the UK economy. Many businesses will have to reduce operating hours – or in some cases, close – as capacity will be lower, hindering a much-needed recovery over the summer.”

The survey found that the possibility of being told to isolate was weighing heavily on workers’ minds, with 50% of professionals concerned about having to isolate. Nearly 13% were concerned that isolation would affect their work, 8.6% were worried it would interfere with their personal plans and 28.4% thought it could interfere with both.

This had led to one in three (34.4%) changing their behaviour to avoid having to isolate. The changes included cancelling plans with friends and keeping children at home until the end of term.

The motivation for a significant percentage (32.1%) of those taking extra precautions was to make sure they could still go on a planned holiday in the next few weeks.

Biggins added: “It’s no surprise that isolation is so concerning for professionals. All of us are eager to get back to normal and enjoy meeting with friends and family – especially in this lovely weather – but 10 days of isolation could cause financial hardship for many families and ruin summer plans as schools break up. We encourage employers to offer as much support as possible to staff members that are forced to isolate.”

Photo curtosy of Canva.com

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Employers are significantly under-reporting the number of people who have died after being exposed to Covid-19 at work, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The union said there was a large discrepancy between the number of people of working age who had died from Covid-19 and the number of reports of work-related deaths by employers.

It pointed out that while Office for National Statistics figures showed that between April 2020 and April 2021 15,263 people of working age had died of Covid-19, employers had reported just 387 deaths from workers contracting the disease at work.

The TUC said it believed the true number of work-related deaths was much higher, and highlighted sectors such as food production and transport as having been particular guilty of under-reporting.

In a report published last week the union pointed out that between March and December last year, more than 600 people working in the transport sector died of Covid-19, but between April 2020 and April 2021 just 10 work-related deaths were reported in the sector.

Similarly, while 63 food production workers died from Covid-19 over the same period, just three were reported as work-related.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: “Everybody deserves to be safe at work. But this pandemic has exposed a crisis in health and safety regulation and enforcement.

“Employers have massively under-reported Covid work-related deaths and infections.”

‘Letting bosses off the hook’

“This has made it much harder for regulators to track where outbreaks are happening and allowed bad bosses to get away with flagrant labour rights abuses,” she continued.

O’Grady said the pandemic had highlighted deficiencies in the way workplace deaths were reported, and added, “the current system is letting bosses off the hook”.

At present, employers are required by law to report deaths, injuries and illnesses that take place at work or are in connection with work through the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) mechanism.

However, it is up to employers to decide whether a Covid-19 infection is the result of workplace exposure or transmission outside work and as is clear from the data, in most cases employers have decided on the latter and not reported the death.

The TUC said this has prevented the HSE from carrying out inspections and making sure employers take action to keep workers and the public safe.

Better enforcement needed

It also called on the government to provide more funding for the HSE, which the TUC said had had its funding cut by more than 50% in real terms over the past decade, leading to a sharp fall in workplace inspections.

“Ministers must fund enforcement bodies properly so they can recruit and train qualified workplace inspectors, inspect more workplaces, and prosecute companies who don’t keep their workers safe,” said O’Grady.

This view was echoed by Darren Hockley, Managing Director at training provider DeltaNet International: “The government needs to ensure companies understand the consequences of not following protocols and guidelines, by prosecuting those who continually fail to keep their employees safe.”

He added that the problem went beyond accurate reporting of deaths. “Not only does the report reveal that employers are not reporting the number of Covid-19 infections, but it also suggests that employers are not putting in place the right health and safety procedures to protect their workers.

“Organisations have a responsibility to protect their employees. Health and safety responsibility doesn’t stop at fire safety policies, with Covid-19, it’s ensuring employees work socially distanced, there is a one-way system in the workplace and there is easy access to ensure workstations are continuously sanitised for starters.”

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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