Dubbed the ‘back to work’ budget, the overall theme was how to boost economic activity in the UK by reducing the number of people who are economically inactive.
To achieve this, the Chancellor unveiled several new measures.
‘Returnerships’ aimed at over 50s
The pandemic prompted an exodus of over 50s from the workplace, leaving many employers struggling to fill vacancies.
To remedy this, a new returnership scheme will be introduced to encourage over 50s to return to work or retrain.
While loosely modelled on more traditional apprenticeship schemes, returnerships will be shorter in length, more flexible, and account for experience.
A new returnership scheme will be introduced to encourage over 50s to return to work or retrain
Putting measures in place
Full details are still to be released but employers will need to start thinking about what type of contract returners would be on, their pay and benefits, what support and training they’ll need to provide, how they’ll recruit and retain, and eligibility, etc.
It’s also important to recognise that the wants and needs of over 50s will vary from younger workers, so employers should put measures in place to directly meet their expectations.
For example, they may prioritise part-time and job-sharing arrangements, phased retirement options, enhanced family-related leave and pay, including grand-parental leave, private health schemes and increased pension contributions.
The wants and needs of over 50s will vary from younger workers, so employers should put measures in place to directly meet their expectations
Enhanced childcare funding
This measure will be a great relief for many working parents.
As it stands, families with young children aged three and four years old are eligible for 30 hours of free childcare per week.
However, the government has recognised the limitations this puts upon parents who are unable to work or are restricted to part-time roles – especially as the UK’s childcare costs are among the highest in the world.
Starting from April 2024, a phased scheme will see childcare support extended to eligible households.
All adults who work more than 16 hours per week will be entitled to 30 hours of childcare per week for each child aged nine months and above.
Starting from April 2024, a phased scheme will see childcare support extended to eligible households
Employees need to assess support
But, since the first of the proposed measures aren’t expected to take effect for more than a year, employers should assess the support they can offer to employees now, to ensure they remain in, or are able to return to, work.
Providing adequate and effective support such as flexible working options or parental leave, can help working parents juggle their responsibilities more effectively.
There are several things employers should prepare for when this extra support is introduced, such as an increase in flexible working requests so parents can abide by nursery pick up/drop off times rather than rely on family members and childminders.
You may also see an increase in requests for parental leave to settle children into new childcare arrangements, and more employees may be impacted by any disruption in nurseries opening hours – which could impact business operations.
Employers should assess the support they can offer to employees now, to ensure they remain in, or are able to return to, work
Employers will also need to consider how they appeal to jobseekers who previously left the workforce due to childcare responsibilities, considering their needs and expectations.
Support for disabled and sick people
The Chancellor has pledged £400 million to support those who have previously left the workforce due to mental health or musculoskeletal issues.
This funding will help those with long-term health conditions to return to and stay in work. It will be underpinned by a new voluntary employment scheme to help disabled people find work.
Employers will need to consider how they can support people back into the workplace.
Reassessing EDI policies
This could include implementing reasonable adjustments during the recruitment phase as well as throughout employment, offering more flexible working arrangements, reviewing the accessibility of their workplace, making sure equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies and practices are relevant and reasonable, training managers on absence management issues and exceptions for disabled workers.
The 5p cut to fuel duty will be extended for another year, keeping costs on petrol and diesel from skyrocketing
Those are the key HR takeaways for employers. But several other measures will also have an impact, namely the abolishment of the pension lifetime allowance and the annual tax-free pension allowance rising to £60k.
Employers in the childcare sector will benefit from more operational flexibility as the staff-to-child ratio is set to increase from 1:4 to 1:5.
From 2026, all schools will offer wraparound care – more commonly known as before- and after-school clubs – giving greater opportunities for working parents to take on full-time roles.
The news that the Energy Price Guarantee will be extended, capping household costs at £2,500 until the end of June, will offer a degree of comfort and reassurance to many.
Likewise, the 5p cut to fuel duty will be extended for another year, keeping costs on petrol and diesel from skyrocketing.
And lastly, corporation tax, paid by businesses, will increase from 19% to 25%.
If you enjoyed this, read: The ripple effect: Managing the economic fall-out post-pandemic