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How To Recruit Health Sector Temps

How To Recruit Health Sector Temps Following IR35 Reforms

The reforms to IR35 legislation introduce difficulties across the public sector – and this is particularly true in the UK health sector, which already had existing staffing issues.

In the 2017/18 NHS Employers’ Pay Review, for instance, all providers responding to the survey said that they had issues with recruitment and, most crucially, retention of staff.

Likewise, a recent NHS Liaison report explained how the main reason for booking locums was ‘substantive vacancies’ and described how this trend has increased each quarter since the start of its analysis.

The NHS is having to take on staff at levels never seen before because of the UK’s ageing population, which has complex health needs. However, health unions have blamed poor workforce planning for the skills gap impacting the sector. Experts believe that despite the government’s pledge to fund an increase in the number of medical students across the country, the fact that it takes almost 13 years for a medical student to become a consultant doctor means the skills gap will remain unresolved in the short-term.

For all of these reasons, the upcoming IR35 reforms, which take effect in April, seem to be the last thing the health sector needs, with the locums and agency workers that are so vital to the functioning of the NHS likely to shun public sector contracts in response to the reforms.

The harm these reforms could cause to the public sector has been underlined by a story in the Guardian this morning. This reports that internal government analysis shows thousands of public sector workers could lose up to 30% of their salary when IR35 is introduced, prompting fears of a staffing exodus.


IR35 reform adds to recruitment woes

As we’ve explained previously, the reforms to IR35 shift the responsibility for determining tax status away from public sector contractors operating through their own personal service company (PSC). Instead, this becomes the responsibility of the public sector authority. However it is feared that because the rules surrounding IR35 are so complex, clients will be likely to take a risk adverse approach and operate the new rules on all their engagements, rather than running individual detailed assessments.

For agencies this means dealing with all the additional policing and paperwork required to calculate, deduct and pay taxes for all the off-payroll workers that fall inside IR35 and prepare and submit RTI reports for all those workers as well.

In fact, we’ve already seen Transport for London introduce a blanket ban on contractors operating through their own PSC.

Given that contractors do not enjoy the same employment benefits and rights as permanent staff – such as sick pay and pension contributions – we suspect not many will tolerate being taxed as if they are permanent staff when the reforms are implemented in April.

The immediate impact of the reform, therefore, is likely to be public sector workers moving to the private sector where the new rules will not apply.

For an NHS hugely reliant on locum staff, this could prove disastrous.

However, there are steps recruiters can take to ensure they reach as many medical professionals as possible – and to help ensure these roles remain attractive.


What’s in store for recruiters?

There’s a lot of opportunity in the health sector for recruitment agencies who will have a vital role to play in helping meet the increasing demand for staff.

For your recruitment agency to take advantage, you will need to:

  • Identify talent wherever you can. Invest early by partnering with colleges and institutions to build a pool of future talent. You should attend graduate and college fairs to build relationships and recruit future candidates
  • Look for contractors with transferable skills who could take on hard-to-fill roles. You might even have to look beyond your geographic reach to bring in specialist temps
  • Appeal to a broad range of potential contractors via different social media platforms. Create content that not only showcases existing roles but also offers meaningful advice on their current issues and future challenges. It’s important to demonstrate your expertise in the sector early on to establish a relationship with temps
  • Finally, use applicant tracking systems to speed up the hiring process and keep track of temps coming up to the end of their current contracts

We can also work with you to ensure your temps aren’t unnecessarily caught by IR35, which could help keep them motivated to take on roles in the public health sector, where their skills are so valuable. Do get in touch with us to learn more.

And remember, we can help you promote your vacancies to thousands of contractors when you can join our service for free.