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Bosses more wary of hiring after Brexit vote, report suggests

Published 15/08/2016

Firms are cautious about taking on new staff due to uncertainty following the Brexit vote, a study suggests
Firms are cautious about taking on new staff due to uncertainty following the Brexit vote, a study suggests

Employers are more cautious about hiring new staff following the vote to the leave EU, a survey suggests.

The joint report, by HR body CIPD and recruitment firm Adecco, also found that public sector and private sector employers have begun helping some of their EU migrant workforce apply for UK citizenship.

Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist at the CIPD, warned that employers could create a self-fulfilling prophecy if they overreact to fears of a downturn.

The survey found the percentage of employers expecting to recruit new staff over the next three months dropped from 40% before the vote to 36% after.

The fall was significantly sharper among private sector employers.

Mr Brinkley said: "There is clear evidence some employers have become more cautious about hiring following the vote to leave the EU.

"While many businesses are treating the immediate post-Brexit period as 'business as usual', and hiring intentions overall still remain positive, there are signs that some organisations, particularly in the private sector, are preparing to batten down the hatches."

He said the softening of the British pound and the expectation of further weakness in the currency are affecting investment decisions, as the UK waits to see the terms of the exit from the EU.

He said: "The economy had positive momentum going into the referendum and there is a risk that employers will create a self-fulfilling prophecy if they over-react in the expectation of a downturn.

"Instead of looking at cuts, now is the time to be talking about investment in people and in processes and equipment that will boost productivity and improve the resilience of businesses and our economy."

The survey found employers are also anxious over their current and future EU migrant workforce.

Nearly one in five (17%) employers said they were giving EU staff help, with public sector organisations most likely to help their employees apply for citizenship (27%).

Around 40% were also concerned that it will be harder to recruit EU nationals over the next 12 months.

Mr Brinkley added: "Employers are rightly thinking about the impact that the EU Referendum decision will have on their migrant workers and how they can best support their workforce.

"However, it's likely that we won't have a full understanding of what the implications are and when they will happen for some time."

:: 726 HR professionals and employers were interviewed about hiring confidence ahead of the referendum, between June 10 and 23.

:: 618 HR professionals and employers were interviewed about hiring confidence after the vote, between July 8 and 17.

:: While 57 public sector organisations 111 private sector organisations were questioned over their EU migrant workforces.

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