Tag: Covid-19

There are reportedly 2 million in the UK suffering from Long COVID 

According to data released in January 2023, there are 2 million people in the UK suffering from long Covid, which causes symptoms like fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and difficulty breathing. A recent survey by the TUC found that 63% of respondents said the illness has limited their ability to carry out everyday activities, and half of them believe they contracted Covid-19 at work. However, supporting employees with long Covid is difficult for employers since it’s a new condition and challenging to diagnose. 

If an employee’s long Covid symptoms amount to a disability, there are legal implications about their duty of support. The general duty to provide a safe work environment free of bullying and harassment applies, and if long Covid is a substantial and long-term adverse effect on an employee’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, the employee could be protected under the Equality Act 2010. 

Almost a quarter of respondents said their employer has questioned whether they have long Covid and/or the impact of their symptoms, and more than one in 10 suffering from long Covid have not informed their employers of their symptoms. Of the employees who asked for changes in their job to accommodate their condition, half were not given all or any of the changes needed to manage their job. 

Adam Hadfield, Clinical Governance Manager at wellbeing consultancy GoodShape, said: “The lack of training around Long COVID leaves managers unequipped to support employees and employees feeling stigma around reporting their illness. Employers should put a specific long COVID policy in place, including educating staff on long COVID symptoms, fast-tracking occupational health referrals, and adding Long COVID to the absence policy.” 

The TUC and Long COVID Support have called for the government to specify Long COVID as a legal disability, strengthen flexible working rights, and provide universal access to occupational health. These findings are from a self-selecting survey of 3,097 people with Long COVID in September and October 2022 on their experiences of work. 

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The retail industry is leading the growth 

According to the foundit Insights Tracker (fit), formerly known as the Monster Employment Index (MEI), e-recruitment activity in Malaysia grew by 21% year-on-year in December 2022. “The 21% annual growth can be attributed to the country easing travel restrictions and opening its borders,” said a spokesperson from foundit, which was previously known as Monster APAC & Middle East before its rebranding last year. 

 The Index currently stands at 76 points, with 3% month-on-month growth, indicating significant job market growth and persistent demand in the labour market. Over the past three months, there has been a 10% growth in hiring across sectors, with the retail industry experiencing a 65% increase in hiring activity year-over-year. 

 “The robust retail sales and upward trend in consumer sentiment drove the 65% increase in hiring activity,” said the spokesperson. However, the Index saw a year-on-year hiring dip in IT, Telecom/ISP, and BPO/ITES by 13%. Online recruitment surpassed the year-ago level in eight of the nine occupation groups monitored by the tracker, with Hospitality & Travel leading the charge at 212% due to the opening of land and air borders. 

 “We have completely eased out of the COVID-19 pandemic and opened our land borders with Singapore,” explained the spokesperson. Among all monitored occupational groups, customer service was the only one to have registered a decrease (-17%) in December 2022. The foundit Insights Tracker is a comprehensive monthly analysis of online job posting activity conducted by foundit. 

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Search trend ‘hybrid working’ saw an increase of +250% in the past 12 months

A new study by live answering service, VoiceNation, has created a map of Europe, which shows the countries that prefer remote working, versus those that don’t.

Since the pandemic, remote working has become the new norm with very little sign of returning to full time, in-person working. And with the search trend ‘hybrid working’ seeing an increase of +250% in the past 12 months and over 822k remote jobs on LinkedIn, it is clear people are still very much interested in flexible working models.

But which countries are more in favour of remote working?

The study looked at positive and negative sentiments through Linkfluence.com, revealing which European countries are the most avid fans of remote working, and which aren’t.

Love WFH Love working in the office 
Austria Albania
Belgium Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bulgaria Germany
Chechia Greece
Croatia Italy
Denmark Russia
Estonia United Kingdom

The countries that love remote working the most 

Renowned for its great working environment, Iceland tops the list as the best country in Europe for remote working. Here, your working hours do not take up too much of your day, allowing you to spend time outside of work doing things you love and spending more time with family. Iceland already had a 4-day working week in place before the Covid-19 pandemic hit!

The other Nordic countries, including Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland all had positive segments on remote working, and as they’re known for their great benefits and policies, it might be a perfect place to relocate if you’re interested in remote working while seeing new parts of the world!

With its strict COVID-19 regulations and lockdowns, France had to adjust itself to remote working, and it seems it’s there to stay. The people of France have come to terms with remote working after the pandemic and seem to prefer this way of working rather than working in the office every day.

In the Netherlands, remote working is a legal right by law, where your employer must review your request to work from home should you bring it up, so there’s nothing holding you back from working in a cute café tucked into a side street and exploring the many museums and other activities the Netherlands has to offer after working hours!

The countries that prefer working in an office

Some countries which preferred working in the office were Germany, Greece, and Italy. Here, it seems most workers liked the office environment, and preferred this to working from home. This could be due to a multitude of reasons, like socialising with your colleagues, getting out of the house and be out on the move every day.

Another country which had more negative sentiment than positive, was the UK. Lockdown forced many to work from home during the pandemic, but now that things have opened again, employees and employers alike are looking forward to getting back into the office, it seems.

There is no right or wrong opinion about remote working. Since it’s here to stay, more people will be able to find the set-up that is right for them, whether it’s going into the office often, or working from the comfort of their home.

Commenting on the study, a spokesperson at VoiceNation said, “We have most definitely seen a shift regarding working from home. The younger generations seem to prefer WFH, while older generations who are used to going in five days a week miss the office. Regardless of what you prefer, we hope our study can help people looking to perhaps relocate, or simply understand more about remote working!”

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Job applications drop 37% as vacancies increase 52% 

The number of applications per vacancy have steadily decreased as the skills crisis continues to grip the UK, with figures dropping 40% between January and February 2022. That’s according to the latest data from the world’s largest network of job boards, Broadbean Technology. 


Applications tumble 

According to the statistics, the number of professionals applying for new jobs fell 37% between February 2021 and February 2022 as vacancies spiked 52%. While this data highlights a concerning picture for the UK’s skills availability, pre-pandemic comparisons provide a clearer indication of the talent crisis facing the recruitment sector. 

Broadbean’s analysis revealed a 55% decline in the number of people applying for new jobs between February 2019 and February 2022, indicating the extent of the impact of Covid and Brexit on the UK’s labour market. 


Sector breakdowns 

Across the sectors, the data reveals a significant decline in the number of people applying for roles across the engineering, IT, retail and healthcare sectors. In the retail arena, applications per vacancy fell 45% between January and February of this year, while figures in engineering and IT were down 41% and 38% respectively. Medical and nursing job applications also reported a 30% decline which is indicative of the continued pressure being felt across the healthcare sector as it attempts to play catch up on routine services following two years of significant demand. 

Alex Fourlis, Managing Director at Broadbean Technology commented: 

“The UK’s skills crisis has been well documented over the last year, impacting almost every business, of every size, across every sector. The uptick in recruitment activity at the beginning of 2021 was initially welcomed with open arms in a Covid-hit economy, but we all soon felt the squeeze on resources as we found ourselves in a unique scenario where everyone was recruiting at the same time. And while Brexit may feel like a lifetime ago, the impact this has had on the labour market wasn’t immediately felt, largely due to the pandemic. There is no quick solution to rebuilding dwindling talent pools and we fully expect this squeeze on resources to continue over the coming months. We do, however, expect to see more employers and recruiters using innovative technology and maximising partnerships with external talent suppliers to tackle this skills crisis.” 

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Talent shortages reported across all industries  

Research by Right Management, global career experts have revealed that four in five employers admitted to hiring new recruits who would be better suited to a different role in the business than they were originally hired for, with 16% going as far as to admit that most employees would be better suited in an alternative role. 

The trend appeared to be more prevalent in London with 82% admitting ‘at least some’ would be better suited elsewhere whilst a shocking 21% deemed ‘most’ new hires to be in unsuitable roles.  

It’s come to light in the current market that the pandemic has afforded employees the time and space to reflect on their working lives, and to consider whether their current employer is aligned with their goals and values – something that many have never had the luxury of doing before. This new perspective led to many employees leaving their jobs, triggering the apparent ‘Great Resignation’. Naturally this exacerbated challenges for organisations that are already struggling to hire because of a reduced talent pool – a result of Brexit, an ageing workforce and inactive workers. 

Large businesses with more roles to fill reported having more employees in unsuitable roles, (81% at least some, 17% most). 

Talent shortages are reported across all industries, and this comes as COVID-19 restrictions are lifting and the UK enters recovery mode, with the number of roles advertised at an all-time high. 

The research reported that employees leaving a role are more likely to take another within the organisation, if possible (26%), with 22% leave to join a competitor business. 

Tim Gilbert, Right Management’s UK Managing Director, commented:“There are a number of factors which could cause people to be hired into the wrong role. Businesses are often under immense pressure to deliver, and this pressure can lead to a rushed hiring process, as leaders look to avoid burnout among current staff. 

“The reduced pool of talent available could lead to a ‘softening’ of the recruitment process. The hiring process itself may not reflect the changes that the UK labour market has experienced; for example, businesses could look to prioritise soft skills and the right cultural fit rather than focusing solely on specific technical skills and experience.” 

He continued: “Recruiting poorly can be very damaging for a business and draining on often-stretched resources, not to mention for the morale and confidence of the colleague in question. It is also very costly – the wrong hire can cost three times the first year’s salary.” 

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Employers told to voluntarily report ethnicity pay  

Ever since the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Regulations were introduced in 2017 the industry has been discussing whether the UK Government would introduce mandatory ethnicity pay reporting requirements for UK employers. Over the years, there have been several calls to action and lobbies for the Government to do so but pleas have fallen on deaf ears as last week, the Government confirmed that “at this stage” it will not be introducing a mandatory requirement for UK employers to report on their ethnicity pay – much to the dismay of many industry bodies, regulators and employers.  

Considering the sharp focus on DE&I post COVID-19, this decision is somewhat disappointing as Laurie Ollivent, Senior Associate, Employment & Incentives and the Diversity Faculty at Linklaters commented: “Whilst the Government hasn’t ruled out introducing mandatory ethnicity pay reporting in the future, it is clear that we should not expect it as a legal requirement in the UK anytime soon. But what the Government has said is that for those employers who choose to voluntarily report on their ethnicity pay gap, they are supportive of the recommendation that employers should publish accompanying action plans and a diagnosis which explains any pay gap and addresses any disparities, and once employers are equipped with a trustworthy, consistent standard for reporting, they should take meaningful action to identify and tackle any causes of disparate pay. In other words – employers need to focus on their narratives. Whilst we accept there are challenges to ethnicity pay reporting beyond those employers face with gender pay reporting which means that the data alone will only ever be a blunt tool to identify potential disparities, the expectation of a narrative without further guidance on what this should look like and the requirement for employers to tackle any causes of disparate pay and report on progress may be off-putting for some businesses considering whether to voluntarily report on their data at this stage and risks halting progress on voluntary reporting rather than encouraging it.  

Simon Kerr-Davis, Counsel, Employment & Incentives and the Diversity Faculty at Linklaters also made comment: “The Women and Equalities Committee report from early 2022 highlighted the increase in employers choosing to voluntarily report on their ethnicity pay gaps. The report states that in 2021, 19% of UK employers voluntarily reported on ethnicity pay – up from 11% in 2018. Whilst this sounds promising and is a large increase, many believe that mandatory reporting obligations are needed – much in the same way as gender pay reporting obligations – for other businesses to follow suit and really drive and achieve change across UK business. 

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The sector continues to report widespread skills shortages

According to a new collaborative report from APSCo and Broadbean Technology, the number of job applications in the healthcare industry have fallen consistently since April 2021, putting added strain on an already under-resourced sector.

According to the data, the number of professionals applying for vacancies in healthcare dropped 35%, 24% and 32% in Q2, Q3 and Q4 2021 respectively. With the sector reporting widespread staffing shortages as COVID-19 continues to place pressure on the medical profession, this suggests that, despite the U-turn on vaccine mandates which is under consultation, the number of healthcare professionals looking for work is dwindling to a worryingly low number. The Home Office has added various healthcare professionals such as carers to the skilled visa list, it seems in a bid to entice healthcare professionals from abroad to work in the UK.  

Across the regions, London reported the greatest demand for healthcare staff, holding the lion’s-share of vacancies last year, followed by the West Midlands, Surrey, Essex, West Yorkshire and Kent.  

Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo commented: “It’s no secret that the healthcare arena is facing a significant shortage, but to see such a sustained decline in applicant numbers is concerning. While we believe that the recent announcement of plans to scrap the vaccine mandates for the sector may help bolster staff numbers, our data suggests that resources remain at a worryingly low level. With demand for medical staff set to increase as the Coronavirus continues to put pressure on healthcare, application numbers are likely to continue to drop. APSCo is working closely with its members and in its government lobbying to ensure the country has access to the skills it needs across all sectors, including healthcare.” 

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These are the most extreme market conditions in living memory

According to Core-Asset Consulting’s “Industry Trends and Salary Guide” there is an enormous shortfall of candidates in Scotland with pressure to significantly increase salaries and perks making grim reading for financial services sector businesses.

Factors causing huge employment gaps in certain sectors are, according to the report, an exodus of international staff due to Brexit, COVID-related career changing and the climate crisis. These have left the industry at an “uncertain crossroads”.

Now in its seventh year, Core-Asset Consulting’s salary guide, a forensic review of salary levels is also a gauge of market sentiment, activity and the themes that are impacting financial services across Scotland.

The guide reports that despite some of the most extreme market conditions in living memory, the Financial Services Asset Management Services industries have remained broadly resilient, with roles such as Business Analysts, Solutions Architects and Regulatory Risk in the highest demand.

However, with vacancies up 52% and applicants down 5% on the previous 12 months, this year’s report has highlighted a burgeoning staffing crisis across multiple sectors caused by the perfect storm of Brexit, increased remote working, the cutting of intern and trainee programmes, and the reluctance of many to relocate for work.

The report found that candidates actively applying for roles was down 35%, while conversely recruiters are having to up the ante to source 57% more candidates than in 2020.

Betsy Williamson, the founder and MD of Core-Asset, said that the latest edition of the annual report, which is eagerly anticipated across the sector, makes alarming reading for its audience.

She commented: “With a predecessor as turbulent as 2020, it was clear that 2021 was going to be another year of unpredictable change within financial services, and the sector is now at an uncertain crossroads with huge hurdles to overcome.

“The reduction in available labour is connected with the UK’s exit from the European Union and the exodus of overseas nationals returning to native soil – with more than 200,000 EU citizens leaving the UK during 2020.”

“Additionally, thousands of workers placed on furlough at the height of the pandemic have since switched careers, leaving massive employment gaps in certain industries, while rising demand across sectors like Fintech and Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) has been driving salaries to unprecedented levels.”

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50% of workers are relying on savings following resignation  

According to the collaborative learning platform 360Learning, nearly 40% of workers across the UK who have either quit their jobs in the past year or are thinking about leaving said that they had asked their bosses for pay rises, more growth opportunities, or more fulfilling work but had been turned down.  

Instead of leaving their jobs for better positions, however, over 50% of workers surveyed said they are or will be relying on savings to make ends meet with some stating that they’re being financially supported by their partners (21%) or family (15%), while Universal Credit and retirement benefits are the chosen route for others.   

When asked why they had quit or were planning to quit, 23% cited feeling burned out or stressed; 21% said they were unfulfilled, yet only 13% said it was because of low salaries. This compared to the US where low salaries were the main reason (22%) people changed jobs compared to burnout (18%) and lacking fulfilment (18%). Another 11% of respondents said they resigned because they wanted to work remotely and their employer would not allow them to do so.  

Learning and development continues to be important to workers with 72% of respondents in management roles quitting because they felt they lacked the adequate training and support to help them manage workplace stress better.  

Respondents were asked what training they’d like with responses including being given the opportunity to develop managerial skills, upskill within their role, courses on how to grow within the company and guidance on how to adapt to the changing nature of work.  

According to results, among the managers in the surveyed group, 44% said they didn’t receive adequate training at any point as part of their role. Nearly one third (29%) said they were disappointed with their onboarding training specifically and 38% felt that their onboarding was not tailored to their role.

Of those who said they lacked fulfilment in their current role, one fifth said their job was boring and another fifth said there wasn’t any room for career development. A further 14% added that the job wasn’t teaching them anything new.  

The underlying reasons behind the UK’s Great Resignation 

The survey results come as people apparently quit their jobs in droves – a trend that has been dubbed The Great Resignation although there are many industry leaders who are not sold on the concept…  

Analysis by Deutsche Bank at the start of 2022 found that the UK’s resignation rate is the highest it’s been since 2009, with redundancies at their lowest level since the mid-90s and open vacancies the highest on record. In the US, experts have previously attributed the phenomenon to a lack of adequate childcare, as well as health concerns around COVID-19 however, the survey by 360Learning’s has revealed that it is a different situation in the UK.  

It doesn’t appear to make much of a difference whether someone has children or not as 45% of those surveyed who had quit their jobs, or were thinking about leaving, were childless, whilst for those who had between one to six children, the number was 47%. These findings suggest that the factors behind leaving or wanting to leave a role are more multifaceted than simply childcare.  

The survey results also showed that health concerns were one of the smallest driving factors for quitting a job, with only 11% citing the pandemic as their reason for resignation, for example, because they wanted to work remotely but their employer wouldn’t let them. 

The remote working conundrum  

The arrival of the pandemic was, however, cited as a major concern among 33% of respondents when asked why they wanted to work remotely. The majority (63%) of respondents who have been working remotely said they felt more engaged with their employer after making the switch from working full-time in an office.    

In what could, however, be seen as a positive outcome of the Great Resignation, 33% of those surveyed who have quit their jobs, or plan to, said they plan to start their own business rather than find another role. Almost a quarter plan to go freelance – perhaps to be their own boss, control their hours and stress.    

Nick Hernandez, founder and CEO at 360Learning, said: “It’s clear there is a major disconnect between workers and their employers right now. This disconnect comes down to poor communication on behalf of employers, poor training practices, and a lack of meaningful opportunities for employee growth. Our survey shows that people are craving flexibility and knowledge, as well as the chance to learn with – and from – their peers. When people don’t feel like these needs are being met, they choose unemployment and rely on savings over staying in a job where they are unhappy. This shows us we’re in the middle of a major shift in how successful organizations are engaging and retaining their top talent. We need to give people the chance to learn from their peers and grow in their roles by upskilling from within. For employers concerned about losing staff, or who are competing to secure talent in a competitive job market, this should be a wake-up call to look at how you encourage staff from day one.”  

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APSCo calls for changes to cost timeframe issues for digital RTW checks

According to Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at APSCo, while the introduction of the option to obtain a digital RTW confirmation from a certified service provider of Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) is welcomed, there are some concerns in the plans outlined.  

These include:   

  • A lack of clarity around standardised rates or fee caps to prevent SME recruiters from being financially burdened 
  • Limited timeframes to allow for an appropriate preferred supplier selection process 
  • The potential for unnecessary duplication of checks 

Tania Bowes commented: “The move to digital identity checks is something we’ve called for and welcomed when it was first announced. However, when we drill down into the details there are issues that have the potential to negatively impact staffing companies. While there will understandably be costs associated with digital checks, we are concerned that SME staffing firms will be exposed to high fees given that the decision around certified provider usages is often driven by the end-user’s outsourcing provider. This is an additional cost of supply, leading to higher costs for end-users or lower rates for workers, disincentivising the best talent to apply for positions. We have asked that the Home Office introduce low standard rates or caps on fees and other suitable limitations on the IDVT certified providers to prevent staffing firms being unnecessarily financially impacted.  

“Given that applications for certification only opened on 17th January we also anticipate time will be short to run an appropriate preferred supplier selection process to establish new relationships with IDVT certified providers ahead of the new rules coming into force. There may be a problematic period when firms can no longer use the COVID-19 checking processes, but won’t be ready to use a digital solution. This will increase time to hire at a time when skills are already in short supply and has the potential to exclude candidates who aren’t able to complete a face-to-face RTW check. We have written to the Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, calling on the Home Office to address these issues raised and to temporarily extend the Covid-19 RTW check, providing an overlap with the digitalised process, to allow time for businesses to set up their arrangements with certified providers.” 

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