Are potential government changes enough to halt the
recruitment industry ahead of the upcoming election?

As a recruiter it’s hard to avoid conversation around the upcoming general election. From doom mongers to the glass half full optimists everyone has a view and with the Labour Party leading in the polls, their proposed changes to employment law have raised concerns about potential disruptions to hiring plans later in the year. But are these concerns warranted, and could they lead to a slowdown in recruitment activity pre- and post-election?

The impact of election years on recruitment

Elections bring uncertainty and the recruitment market is built upon confidence. Political uncertainty leads to economic uncertainty which generally results in hiring delays, and conservative decision-making by employers[1]. Industries including healthcare, energy, and finance are particularly sensitive to proposed policy changes, prompting businesses to closely monitor potential changes in their sector[2].

Labour’s proposed changes to employment law

Labour’s promises of significant upgrades to workers’ rights have started conversations among businesses and employers. Their proposed changes, including the immediate protection against unfair dismissal, raising the minimum wages, banning zero-hours contracts, and introducing the ‘right to disconnect,’ could have far reaching implications for employers and the search market[3].

These proposed changes aim to rebalance power and prioritize mental health in the workplace; however, businesses have expressed reservations about the potential costs and operational impacts of these policy changes[4]. Concerns about hindering economic growth have led industry bodies to seek softening of Labour’s plans, urging for proportionate and affordable changes[5].

While the Conservative Party are yet to release a manifesto, other parties are proposing various employment law changes. Liberal Democrats are placing focus on flexible working, disability rights and abolishing anti-protest laws, whilst the Green Party are proposing a four-day working week, universal basic income, pay ratio laws and a ban on zero-hour contracts[6].

The current landscape

Speak to many within the recruitment sector and they will tell you the year has started well in terms of new mandates and deal flow. Confidence is returning. Yet according to data the recruitment industry has seen the steepest decrease in both permanent hires and temporary billings since mid-2020[7].

Various employment sectors are showing different patterns of demand, with some facing downturns (retail and construction), and others experiencing an increase in vacancies (engineering, nursing, medical)[8]. London has shown the sharpest decline in vacancies, whereas The Midlands contrast the overall trend with an increase in temporary billings[9].

But post Covid, most firms are yet to understand what a “normal” market now looks like. In the past the enduring stories of war and conflict and increased reporting on the raft of elections across the globe would have meant a non-existent recruitment market. But firms across all sectors have learnt to adapt, be agile, seize opportunity and this current market will be no different. There will be winners and losers; but firms are more equipped to deal with adversity.

What’s ahead?

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Labour’s proposed changes and the upcoming election, historical trends suggest that the recruitment market is unlikely to come to a complete halt. Recruitment activity may experience fluctuations, delays – but that has characterised several markets for the last 12-18 months.

Even during freeze periods, recruitment continues, albeit cautiously. Businesses adapt to changing economic landscapes, implementing tailored strategies – depending on their operating sector – to navigate uncertainties and remain competitive in the market.

For those focused on public sector hiring, and government in particular, a Labour win will no doubt be met with positivity.

It will not only be important for all those involved in recruitment to be well versed on campaign manifestos, but more prominently to be focused on providing their candidates and clients with the best possible level of support and service. For this -in a quieter market – is what separates the recruiters from the consultants.

If you are thinking of either changing roles or hiring, the next 2 to 3 months will provide the best conditions before any market unease. If you would like to have a conversation about any upcoming changes, please email or follow Dryden Search on LinkedIn.

[1] The Right Staff (2024)
[2] The Right Staff (2024)
[3] WS Law (2024)
[4] WS Law (2024)
[5] WS Law (2024)
[6] Croneri (2024)
[7] KPMG (2024)
[8] KPMG (2024)
[9] KPMG (2024)


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *