Fresh thinking: Direct Employment and the benefits of JIB membership

The Joint Industry Board (JIB) is pleased that its ‘authoritative and compelling’ report into  Direct Employment will act as a “stimulus to some fresh thinking.”

The report, Direct Employment – A study of Economic, Business and Social Outcomes, authored by Howard Gospel, highlights the negative impact which the steady growth in non-direct, off-payroll working is having on the UK electrical contracting and construction industries.

Over the past 30 years, the UK has seen levels of direct employment decline steeply – significantly higher than in any other comparable European countries. Direct employment improves productivity, protects the industry against future threats and underpins a safer and healthier workforce. It also allows for investment in people and results in better jobs and careers. It is for this reason that direct employment is a key foundation of the JIB agreement and why JIB membership is recognised as the mark of a quality employer. The recommendations made by Professor Gospel are a key focus for the JIB as it strives to promote the benefits of direct employment to clients, major contractors and public procurement. The JIB has already welcomed the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) skills plan, which calls on procurement practices to “demand direct employment within supply chains through pre-qualification questionnaires and tender criteria.”

JIB members have a commercial advantage over their competitors as joining the JIB is considered by industry as a positive investment in an organisation’s workforce and seen as a mark of good employers delivering high quality results.

In a 2020 JIB membership survey the top three membership benefits were listed as:

–           Providing benefit and health schemes (including private healthcare and occupational training)

–           Employment law, guidance and advice

–           Training: Skills Development Fund and support for apprentices

Benefits such as these and many others, including discounts on a number of services, are exclusively available to JIB members and are just one of the reasons why the JIB has been urging clients and large contractors to award contracts to firms that directly employ their skilled workforce, delivering a more productive and safer environment for the future.

In a webinar organised by the JIB to promote the Direct Employment report, Andy Mitchell – Co-Chair of the CLC commented: “Time has come for action and we need to use the right model of employment to help support quality, innovation and safety.” Steve Bratt, CEO of the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), added: “The defective and dysfunctional procurement practices need to change – direct employment can help to reverse these practices and it’s time to invest in skills to support innovation, quality and productivity.”

Chairing the webinar, Sir Brendan Barber, JIB Board member and former General Secretary of the TUC, concluded: “This is an area where the benefits of making change will flow very positively to the whole industry, to society more widely as well as to the workforce. Things won’t change overnight but this report will hopefully be a real stimulus to some fresh thinking.”

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