Yorkshire employers urged to view National Living Wage as opportunity to work smarter
Business owners in Yorkshire are being encouraged to approach the April 2016 introduction of the National Living Wage (NLW) as an opportunity to work smarter, not harder
The new laws have raised fears of thousands of job cuts amid forecasts that it will add an extra £2bn to the region’s wage bill – 3.7 per cent of the current rate.
Barry Warne, partner and head of employment at hlw Keeble Hawson, one of the region’s largest law firms with offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster, recommends that employers think carefully before shedding workers and eroding their knowledge base during the biggest staff shortage and skills gap in recent history.
He said: “In today’s predatory recruitment landscape, businesses do not simply compete for customers, but for the people who will fulfil orders. It is far better for them to absorb the new wage bill without losing their most valuable assets – which can be done through improved working efficiencies and increased productivity.
“Improvements and economies can be achieved by changing employment terms and conditions, for example, hours worked and when. A flexitime system makes sense for a company that has highs and lows of activity, with people working during peak demand, instead of being paid to sit around during slower periods.”
Mr Warne adds that annualised hours contracts – where employees work set hours over the year, but are flexible about when – also give employers greater control over working patterns and scope to maximise efficiency. He stresses that communicating effectively with staff ahead of any proposed changes such as different work patterns, evolving job descriptions, or reining in generous sick pay schemes – is vital.
He said: “Consultation is key to getting staff to agree necessary changes and it must be demonstrated how seemingly disadvantageous moves will benefit them, through greater job security.
“Many employers lack the confidence to contemplate such changes – in the same way that they dislike instigating disciplinary procedures. Professional advice in introducing the new ways of working will be needed – along with support and guidance in implementing the changes themselves.”