• GL
Choose your location?
  • Global Global
  • Australia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Spain
  • UAE
  • UK

DWF employment law experts comment on labour market data across the UK

16 November 2021

Joanne Frew, Global Deputy Head of Employment & Pensions, Ann Frances Cooney, employment law Partner and Elizabeth Colvin, employment law solicitor at DWF review labour market data and provide their commentary on the updated figures. Read more.

UK-wide data: 

Joanne Frew, Global Deputy Head of Employment & Pensions at DWF comments on the UK-wide ONS labour market figures published today. She said: 

"The latest ONS figures show continued recovery in the labour market. The headline figures between July and September 2021 demonstrate a steady period with the UK employment rate estimated at 75.4%, 0.4% higher than the previous quarter.  

"Further, the UK unemployment rate was estimated at 4.3%, 0.5% lower than the previous quarter. This quarter's figures represent a relatively buoyant time for the UK labour market, with the gradual relaxation of rules taking place over the summer months. 

"The repercussions following the closure of the Coronavirus Job Retention from Scheme from the end of September 2021 have yet to be reflected in the figures, creating an element of uncertainty as we look to the future of the labour market.  

"With a drive on the take up of booster jabs we look ahead with hopeful anticipation that this winter will be very different to winter 2020/21. As always, the key message is for employers to plan ahead. 

"The government's Covid-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 sets out a detailed roadmap with a Plan A and Plan B; Plan B entailing further restrictions (including the return of working from home in England). Employers should be engaging with their workforce to ensure everyone feels supported and able to navigate the challenges ahead. Against a backdrop of a war on talent, creating a foundation of trust within the workforce is more important than ever."

Scotland data: 

Ann Frances Cooney, an employment law partner at DWF leading the Scottish employment law practice, comments on Scotland's Labour Market Trends. She said: 

"The latest labour market figures for Scotland show continued recovery with clear positive indicators of a downturn in unemployment and an upturn in employment.

"The headline figures for July to September 2021 show an estimated unemployment rate of 4.1%, down 0.2% over the quarter. By way of comparison, Scotland's unemployment rate was slightly below the UK rate of 4.3%. The estimated employment rate was 74.8%, an increase of 0.6% over the quarter. Scotland's employment rate was below the UK rate of 75.4%.  

"This quarter's figures represent a relatively buoyant time for the Scottish labour market with several restrictions eased on 9 August 2021. The repercussions following the closure of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from the end of September 2021 have yet to be reflected in the figures, creating an element of uncertainty as we look to the future of the labour market. 

"As we look ahead to the challenges of the winter months, it is hoped that the relatively cautious approach taken by the Scottish government can continue to keep infection rates under control and reduce the need for further restrictions. As always, the key message for employers is to plan ahead. Employers should be engaging with their workforce to ensure everyone feels supported and able to navigate the challenges ahead. Against a backdrop of a war on talent, creating a foundation of trust within the workforce is more important than ever."

NI Data

Elizabeth Colvin, employment law solicitor at DWF in Belfast, commented on the NI Labour Market Report, released today. She said:

"The latest LMR shows signs of steady improvement in the NI labour market. The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in October 2021 was 768,200, an increase of 0.5% over the month and 4.4% over the year. This is the highest on record and the fifth consecutive month that employee numbers have been above pre-COVID levels. Significantly, earnings from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £1,849 in October 2021, an increase of £4 (0.2%) over the month and an increase of £75 (4.2%) over the year. The pay increases indicate that there is still a high demand in certain sectors to recruit and retain the best talent.

"The LMR figures show that October’s Claimant count decreased from September’s total and the number of proposed collective redundancies remained low through September, October and the first half of November. This suggests that the impact of the closure of the Coronavirus Job Retention from Scheme from the end of September 2021 has not been as dramatic as expected. However, Labour Force Survey data for the earlier period July-September 2021 shows the total number of hours worked was 7.8% below and the employment rate (includes employees and self-employed) was 2.2pps remain below pre-pandemic levels."

Further Reading