The exemption from disclosure for confidential employment references….

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), which implemented many of its provisions, are now over a year old.  The aim of the GDPR was to increase the protection of individuals’ personal data.  Employees are better informed than ever of their data protection rights, with employers receiving an increased number of subject access requests from their employees.

Interesting, however, under the DPA, individuals are not entitled access to a confidential employment reference written about them; neither from the author of the reference i.e. the ex-employer, nor from the recipient of the reference i.e. the new or prospective employer.  In order for ex-employers to refuse disclosure (should they wish to do so), the reference should clearly state that it is confidential, intended for the attention of the recipient only and that the author does not give permission for it to be disclosed to the subject.

Under the previous Data Protection Act 1998, the exemption relating to confidential references applied only where the employee made the request to the employer that provided the reference. The employee could therefore access the reference by making a request to the employer that received the reference instead. This provision (which was considered an anomaly) was removed by the DPA.

The author of a reference owes a duty of care to both the subject of the reference and the reference recipient.  Caselaw has established that where a reference is given, the reference must in substance be true, accurate and fair, and must not give a misleading impression.  Most job offers are conditional upon receipt of satisfactory employment references.  Clearly, an unfavourable reference can harm an individual’s future employment prospects and result in the prospective employer withdrawing an offer or dismissing an employee during their probationary period. This means that the balance in the employer’s favour may be disproportionate in cases where a reference is open to challenge due to being factually incorrect, or generally giving a misleading impression. Of course, where the individual is not permitted access to a reference, they are unable to challenge its contents.  Where the individual has evidence that the ex-employer had provided a negligent reference, they could bring a claim in the county court and request that the court orders disclosure of the reference.

This statutory exemption could mean that the UK is in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights in respect of an individual’s qualified right to a private life, as it is questionable whether the exemption which permits the reference to be withheld is proportionate to the individual’s right to fairness and transparency regarding their personal data. It is possible that at some point, the UK courts will receive a challenge to the legislation on this basis.  However, as the law currently stands, employers can continue to rely on this exemption, which means that any request for access to personal data contained in an employment reference which is clearly stated to be confidential, is exempt from disclosure.

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Latest market news: High demand for staff but low candidate Availability

 Key points from the March Survey:

  • Permanent placements continue to rise;
  • Growth of demand for staff remains high, but candidate availability drops lower;
  • Starting salaries increase to greatest extent for five months.

Growth in permanent placements…

Although the rate of expansion has softened from February’s three-year record high, the growth in permanent placements remains sharp. Permanent placements vacancies continue to rise at a slightly faster pace than that for temporary job roles.

Candidate availability...

The availability of permanent workers has fallen for the fifty-seventh consecutive month in March. Key permanent staff skills reported in short supply includes in particular Accountants, Engineers, HGV Drivers and Web Developers.

Pay pressures…

The rate of inflation in salaries for newly-placed permanent staff has accelerated for the second month running in March. Evidence suggested that the higher salaries are attributed to strong demand for staff alongside competition for scarce numbers of candidates with the required skills for the roles. Data published by the Office for National Statistics shows improved earnings growth in its latest report. Alongside a softer increase in living costs, this suggests that the pressure on real wages may be coming to an end.


Permanent placements are growing month on month as demand for staff remains high. More people are entering employment, but it doesn’t make up for the shortfall of candidates for many roles, from cyber security and aerospace through to sewing machinists and drivers.

As a result, employers are increasing starting pay to draw candidates away from current roles into new positions. 

Candidates planning to move jobs have a strong chance of getting a pay rise. With inflation outstripping pay growth for over a year now, high pay offers will be tempting, as the pressure on starting salaries still isn’t translating into pay rises for staff who stay put. Employers need to look at other means to keep staff, such as creating a good workplace culture and offering progression opportunities.


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Inflation Remains at a Record High Amid Candidate Shortages

Key Points from the February Survey:

  • Softer rise in permanent placements
  • High levels of candidate shortages amid high starting salaries
  • Softer rise in staff vacancies

Softer rise in permanent placements…

The number of people placed in permanent jobs increased in February although at a slower rate than January’s recent high. The continued increase has  been attributed to a strong demand for staff and a greater willingness among candidates to take up new roles

Decreased demand for staff…

The demand for staff for permanent positions has risen at its slowest pace in fourteen months.

Availability of staff…

The availability of staff for permanent roles continued to decline in February.

Pay Pressure…

Salaries for permanent starters have increased further in February and the rate of inflation remains at a record high. The higher salaries have been attributed to higher candidate and skill shortages amid rising vacancies.



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Changing employers is becoming a more attractive option for those looking for more money…

Growth in placements reaches one-year high

Key points from the February survey:

  • Permanent placements increase at quickest pace in one year…
  • Demand for staff reaches 18-month peak

Although permanent placements have hit a 12 month high, businesses across the UK are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit for permanent roles. The big question still remains about how employers will fill their vacancies.

There are  acute staff shortages in a variety of sectors, from healthcare to engineering. This is likely to get worse, especially if the Government continues to refuse the rights of EU citizens living in the UK post-Brexit.

On the flip-side, this is a good time for individuals prepared to move jobs, with bumper pay offers on the table as hirers compete to secure the talent available. In the context of rising inflation and stagnating pay growth, changing employers is becoming a more attractive option for those looking for more money.

Stronger growth of permanent staff placements

Growth in permanent placements picked up from January’s recent low to reach a one-year high in February.

Demand for staff reaches 18-month peak

Job vacancies continued to increase in February. Overall, demand for staff rose at the quickest rate in one-and-a-half years, with both permanent and temporary workers seeing faster increases.

Candidate availability declines at faster pace

The availability of staff to fill job vacancies declined sharply in February. Both permanent and short-term candidate supply deteriorated and to a greater extent than at the start of the year, with the former noting the steepest rate of reduction.

Sharper increase in salaries

Starting salaries for candidates placed into permanent roles increased at the quickest pace since March 2016 in February.


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Permanent placements see stronger growth in October

blue news

Key points from the October survey:

  • Permanent placements growth reaches eight-month high 
  • Demand for permanent candidates at its highest since May
  • Decline in staff availability

Despite ongoing uncertainty the UK jobs market is thriving again in most areas of the UK. Job vacancies are back to levels not seen since April, and for the third consecutive month recruiters have reported an increase in the amount of people finding permanent jobs.

Permanent and temporary placements rise solidly…

The amount of people placed in permanent roles increased for the third month running in October. Moreover, the rate of expansion quickened to the steepest recorded in eight months. 

…as demand for staff improves further

The robust increase in staff appointments was supported by increased employee vacancies in the latest period. Furthermore, demand for both permanent staff was at the highest since May.

Stronger increase in salaries

Permanent staff starting salaries rose further in October, with the rate of increase picking up to its strongest for five months.

Further drop in candidate availability

The availability of permanent candidates continued to decline in October, and at a steeper rate than in September.

Availability of permanent staff

Permanent staff availability deteriorated during October, thereby extending the current trend to three-and-a-half years. Furthermore, the rate of reduction was sharper than seen in the previous month.

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Appointments rise again in September


  • Permanent placements and temp billings increase moderately

  • Solid growth of permanent salaries but temp pay at 40-month low

  • Slower decline in staff availability

There is further evidence that UK employers have shrugged off the initial shock of the referendum result. Overall, permanent hiring is in growth for the second consecutive month. Even more encouraging is the growth in vacancies; consumer confidence and strong demand on businesses has ensured that hirers are creating new jobs.

There remains a degree of caution in London, where permanent hiring has been on pause for the last five months. This is likely to be because of uncertainty around the longer-term impact of the referendum result within the financial sector in particular.

Permanent placements rise for second successive month…

September data showed a second straight monthly rise in permanent staff placement volumes, after the declines seen in June and July. Temporary/contract staff billings also rose, albeit at a slower pace compared with August’s three-month high. In both cases, rates of growth remained slight overall.

…supported by sharper increase in vacancies

Demand for staff continued to rise in September, with the pace of growth picking up to a three-month high. The strongest-performing category for permanent staff was Engineering.

Candidate availability falls, but at slower rate

The availability of staff to fill permanent roles continued to fall in September. Although remaining marked, the rate of decline eased to the slowest in almost three years. Similarly, temporary/contract staff availability deteriorated at a weaker pace.

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4 of the Most Common Mistakes Made on LinkedIn Profiles

4 of the Most Common Mistakes Made on LinkedIn Profiles

Recruitment Connection. 4 common mistakes made on LinkedIn profiles

LinkedIn provides a brilliant platform for you to showcase your professionalism and credentials to recruiters, potential employers and clients alike. With greater reached than your business card, and better networking opportunities than twitter, you should really make sure your LinkedIn profile is working for you.


Here are the most common mistakes we see people make on LinkedIn:

  1. Using an unprofessional profile picture… or worse, no profile picture.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site. Therefore, it’s best to leave the pictures of you with your mates on the plethora of other social media sites. Don’t get Facebook and LinkedIn confused!

Your photo is one of the first pieces of information that appears on your LinkedIn profile, so make sure it represents how you want to be portrayed to potential employers and clients.

If you don’t yet have a profile picture on LinkedIn, uploading one will quickly transform your profile and professional prospects. LinkedIn analytics has found that you are 14 times more likely to be viewed if you have a profile picture.

Humans are sociable creatures. We like to know and see who we are going into business with.

  1. No summary

Think of the summary as a way of introducing yourself to LinkedIn. If all you said in an interview was your name and handed them a list of your career history, likelihood is that another candidate will get the role. The summary provides you with space to sell your key skills, capabilities and competencies – space to engage with the reader and make them want to read on.

We recommend you write it in first person, third person summaries don’t float so well; after all, you are writing your own LinkedIn summary. Also, having key words in your summary that relate to your industry or the job you want is going to make you more likely to be found by the recruiters and hiring managers who are searching for talent on LinkedIn.

The best summaries are tailored for a specific purpose and audience, e.g. to market yourself to potential clients, or employers and recruiters.

  1. Incomplete profile

Your latest job isn’t the only important part of your career history. It’s best to include your entire work history on your LinkedIn. Unlike writing a CV that’s targeted for a specific role, you don’t know the criteria that people are using for searches on LinkedIn. Therefore, it’s best to build a profile that is as robust and accurate as possible.

Even odd, part-time jobs from your teenage years should be listed. If a hiring manager also worked at the same company or completed the same role, they will know and recognise the skills you learned.

Job descriptions are also there to help you out. Let your target audience know what your responsibilities were, what you accomplished and the skills you acquired.

  1. Not including personal information

Now you’ve brushed up your profile to demonstrate your professional acumen, you can utilise the places LinkedIn has provided to include volunteering work or causes you believe in. People and businesses like to work with other socially-minded people. Plus, it can be used to create true, authentic relationships that can provide both parties with value.


With those 4 mistakes cleared up, your LinkedIn page will now be adding value to your professional brand – not detracting!

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Market News in brief April 16

Contrasting trends in permanent and temporary appointments

The number of people placed in permanent jobs continued to increase during March. That said, the rate of growth eased to a six-month low. Temporary/contract staff billings on the other hand rose at the sharpest pace in four months.

Slowest rise in vacancies since June 2013

March data pointed to softer growth of demand for staff. The latest increase in overall vacancy numbers was the least marked for 33 months. Both permanent and temporary staff saw weaker rates of growth.

Candidate availability remains tight

The availability of staff to fill job vacancies was reported to have deteriorated further in March. The sharper drop was indicated for permanent staff availability, which fell at a slightly sharper rate than in February. Temporary/contract staff availability however declined at the slowest pace in two-and-a-half years.

Further marked pay growth

Average starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs continued to rise in March. The rate of growth remained strong, having quickened slightly since February. Hourly rates of pay for temporary/contract staff meanwhile increased at the sharpest pace in three months…

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Pay Is Not Only Workers Gripe




A Job Exodus Trends poll carried out in December 2015 by Investors in People has found that many employees want improvements in the quality of their working life more than they want a pay rise.  In the survey, employees across the UK were asked to choose between a 3 per cent increase in pay and a range of non-pay-related benefits.

Among those who responded, 34 per cent would rather have flexible working than a 3 per cent pay increase, 28 per cent favoured clear career progression rather than the extra money and 24 per cent would prefer more training and development.

Almost half of the survey’s respondents said that they would be looking for a new job in 2016, with 43 per cent of those citing poor management as the main reason they wished to change jobs, followed by feeling undervalued (39 per cent) and unsatisfactory pay (38 per cent).

One in five employees felt that their workload was too high and 27 per cent were unhappy with the level of pay that they received.

A lack of career progression was a source of dissatisfaction for 23 per cent of employees.


With thank to The Voice, March/April 2016

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What Do Staff Want From You?

What better way to let people know they are expendable commodities than calling them ”resources” (human or otherwise)?


We all know what we want from our people; the question is how to get it consistently.  The answer, more often than not, lies in understanding what your people want from you.

Remuneration, incentives, reward and opportunity are important tools in achieving a “happy advisory family”.  However, if we accept getting the most from your staff is really about delivering a knock-your-socks-off service for your clients, it has to go further than a general sense of wellbeing.

Most advisers, according to the MD of So Here’s the Plan, agree team dynamics have changed dramatically in recent years.  In the past, the most important person in the business was the salesperson.

Today, service staff are arguably the fulcrum because service is precisely what advisers are selling.  The quality of your business will be reflected in the quality of the clients you can keep, not the volume you can attract.

A truly successful advisory business ensures its purpose permeates every corner of the firm and there is both the leadership to inspire it and the infrastructure to deliver it.

But it starts before the beginning.  Advisers agree not enough work is done to ensure the right people are brought in for the right roles:  that those in client-facing roles care deeply about people, that staff in support roles love administrating and leaders are just that.

Incentivisation and reward structures, however wonderfully conceived, will fail unless the people fit.  Four, interlocking, themes dominate:

Leadership:  The desired culture must be purposefully led from the top and not be expected to come through advisers.  Someone needs to invest time in creating the infrastructure for that to happen.

Infrastructure:  Designing your processes to reflect the kind of service you intend to offer clients is key.  How much should advisers be involved in administration?  Should support staff be liaising directly with clients?

Clarity:  Responsibility can only effectively be taken when clarity is provided as to what is expected from individuals and teams.

The client experience:  All the above must be designed and delivered with the client as the start, the middle and the end.  Every part of the business must know how it fits into the client’s world – not the other way round.


Article from Money Marketing – 3 March 2016

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