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Business Committee launches UK labour market inquiry

27 May 2022

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has launched an inquiry into the UK’s labour market as skills and worker shortages restrain the post-pandemic economic recovery.

In the latest strand of the Committee’s broad Post-Pandemic Economic Growth inquiry, MPs will examine the challenges faced by workers and employers and what the Government and companies can do support the labour market.

The Committee wants to hear from experts, business organisations, unions and any other bodies gathering information on economic and labour trends to inform the inquiry.

Chair's comments

Commenting on the new inquiry, Committee Chair Darren Jones said:

“The latest ONS figures show there’s more vacancies than people to fill them for the first time, acting as a brake on our prosperity.

Recovering from the shock of the pandemic was never going to be easy, and it is made more difficult by the effects of an aging population and changes in migration.

To give us the best possible chance we must make sure we have the right workers, with the right skills, in the right places. That’s why we’ve launched an inquiry into what employers need to accelerate the recovery, what workers need for their own stability and growth, and how new technology can be harnessed in a fair and productive economy.”

Terms of reference

If you’re interested in contributing to this inquiry, you can submit evidence answering any of the following questions on the Committee website until 8 July 2022.

  1. The state of play in the UK labour market post-Brexit and the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on recruitment, skills shortages and the growth of the labour market
  • Do we have enough workers with the right skills in the right places?
  • What impact has the UK’s departure from the EU had on the flow of workers into and out of the UK? Are there particular sectors or skill sets that are most impacted?
  • Which sectors are experiencing the most acute shortages of workers since the pandemic? Have there been structural changes in the labour market post-Covid?
  • What more can the Government do to ensure that employers are able to recruit people with the right skills for the job, including the effective use of apprentices?
  • To what extent is long covid contributing to economic inactivity due to long-term levels of sickness absence and early retirement?
  • What are the skills and training needs of different sectors over the coming months and years? Are there particular case studies that underpin priority policy objectives from the Government (for example, in the energy industry)?
  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technology in the workplace

  • How is AI currently being used in the workplace? Is it more prevalent in some sectors than others?
  • Is AI improving productivity in the workplace?
  • How are companies monitoring workers and setting performance targets through algorithms? Is this practice widespread? To what extent are employers using algorithms in recruitment? How well does existing regulation protect workers from the risks posed by AI and algorithms in the modern workplace
  • Will well-paid skilled jobs be lost to AI, as well as routine manual tasks that already have?
  • How should the Government protect workers and prepare them for this new future?
  • How will workers be supported to adapt to the changing skills that growing use of AI will require of them?
  • Are there specific technologies that we need to consider, beyond AI generally, that warrant updates to employment law?
  1. Workers’ rights and protections

  • How can the Government improve employment rights, following Brexit and the covid-19 pandemic?
  • How can the right balance be struck between the flexibility the UK economy needs and protections for workers?
  • What can the Government do to improve protection for people in low-paid work and the gig economy?
  • What opportunities should be taken to capitalise on the UK’s departure from the EU to differentiate between the EU and UK standards in some areas of workers’ rights and protections?
  • The Government announced, but has not yet published, a new statutory code[1] to prevent unscrupulous employers using fire and rehire tactics. What should this new code include to be an effective deterrent against that practice?
  • Are updates to employment law required to match the increased amount of work being undertaken from home?
  1. Employment status and modern working practices five years on from the Taylor Review

  • How are working patterns changing in the UK? To what extent is the gig economy growing and permanent full-time employment contracts in decline?
  • What should the Government be doing five years on from the Taylor review of modern working practices to address the issues raised in that report?
  • Are current legal definitions of employment status, in light of recent judicial rulings, still fit for purpose?
  • How have employee demands and employer offers of flexible working been affected by the pandemic? How should this affect Government plans and commitments around flexible working?
  • Are there particular types of work, for example night-time or shift work, which warrant further consideration in respect of the impact of that work on workers?
  1. The impact of an ageing population on the labour market

  • What impact is the ageing population already having on employment rates and labour productivity?
  • How is the UK’s ageing population exacerbating the labour shortage that can already be felt in some sectors, e.g. hospitality, hair and beauty, social care?
  • How can the Government help maintain the employability of older workers who wish to remain in work? What are the barriers facing older people in the workplace, including pension aged workers, and how should these be addressed?

Further information

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