Spring budget decoded: the HR takeaways that actually affect you

  • Employment Law
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James Potts - Legal Services Director at Peninsula

James Potts, Legal Services Director

(Last updated )

What does the spring budget mean for your HR?

“Don’t know and don’t care.” Might be your first thought. And we don’t blame you. When notifications are non-stop about the Chancellor’s ambitious financial package, it’s easier to get stuck in a media storm of political opinions than find out what you actually need to know.

That’s why we’re making this clear-cut and simple. The HR experts have decoded the political jargon into plain English, bringing you the key points of the budget that actually affect you.

So, here’s a quick-fire roundup i.e. the stuff you need to know.

1. Skills programmes to help over 50s return to work

First up, there’ll be a new apprenticeship-style scheme aimed at the over 50s called a ‘returnership’.

A returnership is essentially a skills programme. The goal of this scheme is to encourage over 50s who aren’t working or are in early retirement to rejoin the workforce. That’s whether they’re looking to retrain or learn a new skill.

A returnership programme will consider someone’s previous experience. Plus, it has the added benefits of being shorter and more flexible than a typical apprenticeship.

How does this affect me?

The government has yet to release the full details on how returnerships will work. However, you will need to think about the type of contract you’ll need if you want to offer this in your workplace.

You’ll also need to consider:

  • The support and training you’ll need to provide
  • What makes someone eligible for a returnership 
  • Pay and benefits for anyone on a programme
  • How you’ll recruit and retrain people
  • How inclusive your workplace currently is – do you have an up to date equality and diversity policy? Could you be indirectly discriminating without realising?

2. Free childcare to help working parents return to work

Next, the government intends to provide eligible working parents with a weekly allowance of free childcare.

This will come into effect in stages. Meaning from April 2024, parents of 2-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of free childcare every week. From September 2024, this right will extend to parents of children aged 9 months and older.

And from September 2025, all eligible parents who have children over 9 months and under the age of five will get 30 hours of free childcare a week.

To be eligible, all adults in a household must work at least 16 hours a week at minimum wage.

How does this affect me?

You may employ people who currently manage their childcare commitments alongside work. Or, maybe you don’t have many or any working parents in your business.

Either way, having more free childcare support means more working parents can:

  • access job opportunities
  • re-enter the workforce after having a child
  • increase their working hours and earn more money to support themselves

So, this is likely to widen your talent pool as you may see more applications from working parents when you recruit.

You may also receive more flexible working requests from staff. Say, for example, your employee wants to put their child into nursery care rather than relying on family. They may ask if they can change their working hours to suit when they have to drop off and collect their child.

So, we advise you to review your current flexible working rules as this will be high on the agenda for staff with young children.

3. Support to help people with health conditions and disabilities return to work

Many people leave the workforce because of a disability, a mental health condition, or a musculoskeletal issue, like a bad back for instance.

And Jeremy Hunt says he wants to “remove the barriers that stop people who want to from working”.

That’s why he’s pledged to help people with long-term health conditions and disabilities find, return to and stay in work by:

  • scrapping the Work Capability Assessment, so that claimants can look for work without worrying about losing financial support
  • extending the amount of time people with disabilities can spend with work coaches in job centres
  • launching a new voluntary employment scheme in England and Wales called ‘Universal Support’ to help people with disabilities find jobs

How does this affect me?

It’s essential that you make sure your workplace is currently accessible for people with disabilities. That means checking there are no barriers in your hiring process as well as your workspace.

If your workplace isn’t accessible or inclusive, you limit your talent pool and put yourself at risk of discrimination claims. So, if you’re not sure where to start, you can learn tips on how to create a more accessible workplace here.

You’ll also need to make sure your equality policies and practices are relevant and completely up to date.

Ask a HR expert for free

Big updates create a fresh batch of HR issues for you, like leaving your documents and processes out of date. And updating and creating new ones is not only time-consuming, but tricky and risky if you’re not completely confident with your employment law.

It’s why over 44,000 UK businesses leave all that to Peninsula. Because:

  • Peninsula has forty years of experience helping businesses to combat their legal risks
  • Peninsula create legally-watertight contracts and policies bespoke to every business
  • Over 99% of people rate Peninsula Excellent or Good on Trustpilot

Got a question or concern? Ask a HR expert for free by calling 0800 029 4389

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