• Session summary

    As part of the Brachers ‘Future-proof your business’ series, this seminar focussed on the employment issues currently facing Kent’s employers, key risk areas and future opportunities.


    • New apprenticeship arrangements give businesses an opportunity to develop their existing workforce or attract and retain new talent.
    • The apprenticeship levy will apply from April 2017 and applies to large employers with a pay bill of more than £3m.
    • The levy is 0.5% of wage roll.
    • Under the arrangements, the Government pays 90% of the training costs for relevant training and the employer 10%.
    • New apprenticeship standards are available and different funding arrangements apply based on the band into which the particular apprenticeship falls.
    • Apprenticeship wage 16 to 18 – minimum £3.50 an hour.
    • 19+ apprenticeship for the first year – £3.50 and then national minimum wage for 18-20 of £5.60, 21-24 of £7.05 and 25+ of £7.50.
    • 16-18 training fully funded for employers of less than 50 people.
    • £1000 incentive for employers who recruit 16-18 year olds.
    • Under the “Made in Kent” banner KCC have launched a new service to provide more information and support to employers which can be accessed via phone 03000 414 005 or at kep@kent.gov.uk and www.apprenticekent.com.

    Wellbeing in the workplace

    • A clear case can be made out for an effective employee wellbeing strategy in terms of reducing absenteeism, increasing employee engagement and increased productivity.
    • The five core domains of an effective strategy are health, work, values and principles, collective/society issues and personal growth.
    • A key tool is communication and supporting and understanding employees’ wider concerns including those outside the workplace. As an example, an effective carers’ policy and approach can be really helpful in giving a structure in which individuals can maintain their effectiveness at work, whilst also balancing other elements of their life.
    • Account needs to be taken of our ageing workforce and the fact that whilst short term absences may be lower, there is an increased risk of more complex health conditions.
    • Preventative initiatives can help support all workers.

    Key trends and themes in 2017

    • Employers in Kent are increasingly finding it difficult to attract and retain the right staff meaning they are looking creatively at recruitment and retention strategies considering apprenticeships, recruiting for aptitude and attitude rather than current skill levels.
    • Employees are suffering increasing rates of mental illness and employers need to consider the impact of this and what can be done to support individuals and offer pro-active initiatives.
    • Whilst Employment Tribunal claims are reducing, there is still a reasonably high instance of disability claims, quite often including an allegation that an employer has failed to make reasonable adjustments. Effective communication between employers and employees remains a key tool in ensuring legal requirements are met.
    • Developments on the horizon include the prospect of new data protection provisions being introduced, gender pay gap reporting for larger employers and possible grandparents’ leave.

    Session summary

    • Ensure you are aware of the real opportunities presented by the new apprenticeship arrangements – why buy in talent when you can make your own.
    • An effective wellbeing strategy can have a tangible impact on productivity and employee engagement.
    • Mental health issues affecting employees are increasing and employers need to have a clear strategy and be aware of the need to make adjustments for disabled employees.
    • Some changes are on the horizon but the key issue facing the county relates to the lack of skilled labour. The more employers can do to retain talent, the better and this means being creative with engagement strategies.

    Find out more about our wellbeing package to support employers in developing a more productive and engaged workforce.

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    This content is correct at time of publication

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