In its latest figures, CIPD report that the net employment intentions have risen over Q4 whilst the redundancy intentions of businesses has fallen. 

CIPD’s most recent report ‘Labour Market Outlook’ for the final quarter of 2020 shows that uncertainty within the labour market may be levelling out to give way to more stability.

Most notably, the employment intentions of organisations has risen significantly. Although this number is still at -1, this is a seven point improvement of previous figures that stood at -8 in Q3. This is lower from the same quarter in 2019 which stood at 69 per cent but over half of businesses stated their intention to recruit this quarter (53 per cent).

Employment confidence varies depending on sector. Whilst sectors such as healthcare and education have enjoyed a high level of employment confidence, other sectors such as finance and insurance, manufacturing and hospitality have seen a downturn in employment confidence.

In line with this trend, the intended number of redundancies has also fallen slightly over the final quarter. During the last quarter, roughly 19 per cent of the workforce expected to make redundancies which has now dropped to only 16 per cent.

Many employers have turned to methods which would minimise or hold off redundancies including making temporary lay-offs or furloughing staff (41 per cent of businesses reported doing this), redeployment (37 per cent), recruitment freezes (32 per cent), freezing or delaying wage increases (29 per cent), cutting bonuses (29 per cent) and terminating temporary contracts (27 per cent).

Almost half of those (47 per cent) who stated that they would be making redundancies over the next three months have said this will affect 10 per cent or less of their whole workforce. However, uncertainty is still on the horizon for some businesses as just under a fifth (17 per cent) could not say definitively whether they will make redundancies over the coming months.

Just under half of staff (44 per cent) stated that they will maintain staff levels over Q4 of 2020. A similar number of businesses reported their intention to either increase (24 per cent) or decrease (25 per cent) staff levels.

Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Analyst for CIPD, said:

The jobs market is still uncertain, but the rate of decline is showing signs of levelling off.

The report shows a clear improvement in net employment intentions. Although it remains in the red, at –1, it is still seven percentage points higher than the last quarter, when it plummeted to a record low of –8. The modest improvement in employment intentions is due to a marginal fall in redundancy activity and a modest rise in recruitment activity.

Despite these modest improvements, it should be noted that considerable uncertainty remains about the overall prospects for employment, which remain weak. This is partly due to the timing of the fieldwork, which both preceded the recent re-introduction of restrictions in large parts of the UK and overlapped with the Government’s Winter Plan announcement. More recently, the Government has announced an extension to the furlough scheme and further lockdown measures in England, following the introduction of similar restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Overall, notwithstanding the considerable uncertainty, the survey data suggests that the jobs fallout is a more modest one compared with the previous quarter, which might indicate that the worst of the jobs cull might be over in the short term. If this proves to be the case, the recent record quarterly increase in redundancies might become less dramatic in the short term alongside modest improvements to hiring confidence levels.

*This research was taken from CIPD and the Adecco Group UK&I’s report ‘Labour Market Outlook: Autumn 2020’ which surveyed 1,0006 senior HR professionals and decision-makers in the UK during the 14th-30th September.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.