It was billed as the budget which was set to focus on ‘getting people working’.
For days prior to yesterday’s official Budget statement by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, pundits had talked about a symbolic theme of trying to encourage more people to stay in work, get others ‘back’ to employment, and to make those of us in the workplace feel more rewarded for doing so.
On the face of it, and particularly from an HR perspective, this could surely only be beneficial to all.
Here at MAD-HR, we’ve been digging through the detail, and there are certainly some key points which we feel deserve great scrutiny, or at least ‘watch and wait’ by employers and people managers.
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Let’s start with childcare.
An increase in free childcare, to cover one and two-year-olds, is to come into effect from NEXT April.
This shows great intent and a far better understanding of the challenges facing parents.
Increasingly, parents of working age have been saying how much pressure they feel under financially because of childcare provision – to the extent that some make the decision NOT to return to work.
As an employer, you’ll want to be mindful that the April 2024 date is just a starting point, with a phasing of introductions. All children over nine months old will be included in this measure by September 2025.
When thinking about which of your employees this becomes applicable for, note that it is in respect of any household where all adults work for more than 16 hours a week.
Sitting alongside this announcement is the news that funding for wraparound care for school-aged children is also to be increased. This means by September 2026, parents will be able to drop their children at school between 8am and 6pm.
Again, it’s a step which should hopefully make it far easier for your employees to fulfil their working day as they would wish to.
Next, we turn to health.
Poor health has long contributed in a significant way to the British economy.
The Budget revealed intentions to expand the pilot of an occupational health study for small businesses. It will consult on boosting UK occupational health in a number of ways, while at the same time looking to introduce a WorkWell programme aligning employment and health support.
Apprenticeships also featured as a topic of consideration and dissection for employers.
The government has announced that a new idea of ‘Returnerships’ will come in, to aid over-50s in learning new skills and returning to work.
This, alongside increasing the tax-free allowance people can save in their pension pot, may well be a helpful concept for improving the level of more mature workers staying in place or seeking roles with your business.
In summary, we like to believe this week’s Budget brings you, the employer and leader, great opportunity, hope and confirmation of intention.
Of course, what history tells us, is that the promising narrative is one thing – and now we must of course wait to see the delivery.
If the Budget and its various issues have raised any thoughts for you around areas of your employment processes and management of staff, please do take the opportunity to reach out to our team.