Construction Staff Costs Soar

Report finds unprecedented labour shortages in the construction industry and unclear rules.

A report from employment expert Citation into the construction industry has found that difficulties filling vacant roles and finding cover for absent employees, is causing staffing costs to soar. With more time and resources being put into finding the right candidates, and covering staff sickness/self-isolation due to Covid-19, the report found that almost 60 per cent of businesses in the sector are experiencing rising costs.

More than half of firms have seen staffing costs rise by at least 30 per cent, putting employers under intense pressure to maintain a functioning workforce, whilst balancing costs with the wider business. Almost 75 per cent of businesses have been affected by staff absences due Covid-19. With a shortage of staff, firms are finding it difficult to find cover for absent employees, spending more time and money doing so.

As well as staff taking time off, employers in the industry are facing a crisis with recruitment. More than 40 per cent of those surveyed said that they have had problems filling vacant roles. Despite having more vacancies, employers are struggling to find the right candidates. The skills shortage is adding to the cost of staffing as searches take longer, and more time is spent interviewing and vetting applicants.

Gill McAteer, head of employment law at Citation, said: “Covering absence and recruiting talent can be a costly process for employers, and what the construction industry is currently facing is unprecedented.

“The current skills shortage is meaning that added pressure is put on current employees, and with many of those having to take time off due to illness and isolation, businesses are paying the price.

“With self-isolation rules having recently changed for the double vaccinated, employers should start to see a drop in the number of workers being required to isolate,” she added. “Although this should help to balance the rise in staffing costs, many employers are confused about the rules.”

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has been unclear on the rules and guidance given to businesses. Lack of clarity around risk assessments, health and safety policies and self-isolation has left employers confused. Following the recent relaxing of restrictions and rules, the survey found 60 per cent of leaders felt let down, or that more advice for businesses could have been provided by the government on how to create a Covid safe workplace.

Gill added: “Due to the confusion on rules and guidance throughout the pandemic, we have seen a rise in construction firms taking up our services. Having an external company managing the health policies allows employers to spend more time on wider business activity, especially recruitment.”

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