As the UK re-opens for business and the economy starts on its slow path to recovery, it’s encouraging to see that certain sectors such as construction, healthcare and IT are opening up their recruitment process. In fact, even the Queen is advertising for a building supervisor and maintenance technician at Windsor Castle – the first recruitment since the start of lockdown.
As the economy starts to recover with (certain) shops re-opening, manufacturing output on the increase and a £5b investment by the government to kick-start the construction industry, we are undoubtedly starting to see green shoots of business activity emerging from the Covid-19 lockdown.
And although, it is true, we are currently seeing fewer vacancies than before March 2020, there are encouraging signs that demand is starting to pick up as businesses begin to climb out of the pandemic’s critical stage.
However, with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) coming to an end soon and with it a potential rise in unemployment, there will no doubt be increased competition for the jobs that are available.
During the enforced lockdown, we’ve known many businesses that have been reassessing their employment needs. For some this means a reduction in ‘marginal labour’ with their job functions being shared among the existing workforce, a contraction of the overall labour force, or a complete halt to recruiting permanent staff.
Having said that, there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the economy is starting to pick up, growing as it did by 8.7% in June. This is, no doubt, spurred by the government announcing a further removal of some of the restrictions and increased support for UK business.
In response to this, both employers and employees that have been severely affected by the Covid-19 lockdown are now looking at ways of restoring stability in order to face what is being called the ‘new normal’.
With so much uncertainty and lack of clarity regarding future employment, it is no surprise that we are seeing a myriad of employment initiatives being considered. One of these is ‘Temp to Perm’ (temporary to permanent), also known as ‘try before you buy’.
In fact, with many furloughed workers now wanting to get back to work and employers desperate to crank up production, this could be the lifeline they are both looking for.
Traditionally, temporary contracts have always been used to fulfil specific needs such a seasonal infill or a short term project, however in recent months it has become clear that Covid-19 is having a major impact on the employment market and, in some cases, creating a skills shortage in certain sectors.
‘Temp to Perm’ offers many advantages for both those looking for work and employers looking to return to some sort of normal. For the employer, one of the key benefits is the opportunity to test out roles within the organisation without committing to extra resources.
For the employee, it’s an ideal way of evaluating a new role or learning a new skill. And the same employment rights, as permanent staff, apply. Depending on the contract of employment, this includes sick and holiday pay as well as receiving the same treatment such as perks, pension scheme, bonuses etc.
Temporary contracts also provide the same legal protection as permanent staff. However, one of the biggest advantages from the employee’s perspective, is that you have a legal right to be informed of any vacancies becoming available at the organisation.
Even without the Covid-19 pandemic, certain sectors have constantly had skills shortages. For example, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) industries are always on the lookout for strengthening their specialist staff pool. And in many cases, a temporary position can lead to a permanent appointment.
At this stage, it needs to be said that there is a significant difference between temporary employment and ‘Temp to Perm’ appointments. A temporary appointment can be just that and is something we know suits many of our candidates. It could be a short term requirement, a way of testing out a new career move or wanting to expand the skills section on their CV or LinkedIn profile.
We have many years’ experience in advising both employer and employee on temporary employment. However, in this blog, we are specifically exploring the concept of ‘Temp to Perm’, especially in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic. There are many benefits to an employer for offering this employment option.
To start with, the employee may bring on board a set of new skills that the organisation were not aware of its value. For example, they may have been hired for a specific role but once ensconced in the business see opportunities that the organisation was unaware of.
In our experience, this happens a lot. Our advice to employees in this situation is always think of your role as an audition. Doing your job as required is ok but going that extra mile is even better. This includes showing commitment (timekeeping) interest in the company (finding helpful information online) and responding to company culture (joining in social activities).
And of course, above all, making sure they are aware that you would like to be considered for a full time position.
To enable this to happen, it’s important that temporary staff are treated the same as permanent staff. This includes access to CPD resources, regular evaluations and on-going work assessment, and integration with the existing workforce.
Firstly, it enables the business to seamlessly expand their workforce without the hassle and disruption of fresh hiring. A member of staff employed on a ‘Temp to Perm’ basis is already familiar with the organisation, its culture and modus operandi. They will also probably have been up-skilled while there and are primed for future business growth.
In addition, this method enables an organisation to evaluate the suitability of the candidate in a real working situation before making any commitments in offering them a permanent position.
If they are not suitable or the business is unable to accommodate their employment, there is less risk to the Employer regarding wrongful dismissal (dependent on their contract of employment) as well as a minimal cost of any company benefits within the first 12 weeks.
We also find that a ‘Temp to Perm’ member of staff can bring renewed vitality and energy into the business as well helping to increase productivity with their enthusiasm and passion. This is certainly something that is greatly valued by employers, especially at the current time.
There is no doubt we are currently seeing major changes in the jobs market. The covid-19 pandemic is changing the way we do business, possibly in some cases, for ever. On the other hand, according to the Bank of England, manufacturing output has been rising for the last three months, 50% of the UK workforce is currently travelling to work (compared to just over 30% a few weeks ago) and with the furlough scheme ending in October, over half of the 9.6m original furloughed staff have now returned to full or part time working.
And while we will, undoubtedly, see an increase in unemployment by the Autumn, with a possible 2.4m not in full time work, we are finding that many businesses are now re-assessing their workforce skillsets as they respond to the ‘new normal’ This means that those looking for employment opportunities could find that they have relevant skills that are now in great demand.