Friday, 17 March 2023 09:29

Attracting Returners

In a fairly uninspiring budget this week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt did give a nod of recognition to the current and ongoing lack of skilled and experienced candidates available to fill job vacancies with a reform to the free childcare system. Campaign groups have been calling for a change to the rules for some time which, in its current form, means working parents of one and two year old children do not qualify for Government funded childcare.

The Chancellor’s motivation to update the system and therefore release skilled and experienced employees back into the workforce is most likely driven by his plans for economic growth, However, there will be many advantages for those whom the reforms directly benefit; primarily working women.

It’s easy to see how someone who has taken a break from work for any period of time might lack confidence, or perhaps fear that their skills and knowledge have become outdated, thereby making it difficult for them to re-join the workforce. One of the reasons for an extended break may be the inability to afford childcare.

Under the new rules, with childcare costs taken care of, they will be able to return to work with minimal delay and probably to the same job. This will be a boost to employers too as it will enable pregnant employees to plan their return to work more effectively, removing uncertainty over whether or not individuals will be returning to the jobs which must legally be held open for them.

The Chancellor’s plans have drawn some criticism over the upper earnings limit having no tapering and how the phased implementation of the new rules may have a short to mid term ill-effect on those claiming childcare; but we should acknowledge that the changes are another step towards equality.

In the meantime, employers can encourage applications from parents who are ready to return to the workplace by offering what have been referred to in the past as ‘Returnships’.

First discussed back in 2017, returnships provide structured return-to-work programmes targeted specifically at those who have taken an extended, voluntary break from work.

Mostly introduced by larger companies, historically, a returnship was a paid programme of between three and six months, for those returning to work after a break of over 2 years. It includes tailored support, training and coaching whilst the returner actively works in a job role with the final aim, although there is no guarantee, of taking that person on full time.

Often, returnships are targeted at women returners but we would recommend ensuring any such schemes are fully inclusive as the reasons for taking a break from work are not exclusively pregnancy or childcare related.
Previous Chancellor, Phillip Hammond previously announced funding for returnship schemes but we don’t think this ever materialised. Amendments to current apprenticeship schemes to incorporate the returnship concept have been mentioned but details are still to be released.

We suggest that employers who are struggling to fill vacancies design and offer their own returnship schemes to reach those who are already looking for support to return to work. We’d be happy to help with design and implementation. Call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Read 686 times Last modified on Friday, 17 March 2023 09:58


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