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With latest ONS figures showing the employment rate was at a joint record high during November-January, the REC has said the government must take bolder action to protect jobs and businesses.

The feedback from recruitment professionals is that the Coronavirus epidemic is already having a significant impact on the jobs market.

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), said, commented, “With the coronavirus situation changing every day, it’s essential for businesses and government to be looking forward, rather than backwards at these obsolete figures. Four in five recruiters expect the outbreak to have an adverse impact on hiring in the short term, and we are likely to see the greatest impact in sectors like hospitality, retail and the creative industries. However, the health, social care and logistics sectors have been looking for even more staff in the past few weeks. Recruiters and temporary agency workers have a vital role to play if employers are to keep up with demand.”

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Hadley added, “We welcomed the emergency support for workers and businesses that was announced in last week’s Budget – but we need bigger, bolder action to protect good companies from cashflow problems that weren’t their fault. This means covering sick pay, deferring VAT and PAYE payments, and suspending the upcoming tax changes until normality resumes. This will help to keep people in their jobs and allow firms to start hiring again.

“In return, businesses must also take a proactive approach to both protecting their staff and preparing for a future where we will all have to be more flexible about the ways we work.”

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