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UK leads world with sharpest rise in terminations

The UK saw a faster increase in contract terminations than more than 160 countries despite overall low redundancy figures, according to new figures.

Statistics from payroll provider Deel showed contract terminations rose around the world towards the end of last year, growing from 28% of contracts ended to 42%. The UK, Deel said, led the pack.


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Deel’s data, based on its customer base of remote international teams, showed a devastating impact of economic uncertainty on workers, according to Matt Monette, country lead and head of expansion for Deel UKI.

He told HR magazine: “The rising cost of goods and services, the real wage squeeze and surging energy prices are still hurting businesses.

“However, there is still room for optimism: the overall number of UK layoffs remains low when compared to the growth in hiring in the region.”

Redundancies may be up, but it is coming from a low base, according to Duncan Brown, principal associate at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES).

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “Unemployment is still low by historical standards and there are still hundreds of thousands of voluntary job moves occurring.”

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showed UK redundancies climbing from 2.82 people per thousand each quarter, to 3.5, from January to December 2022.

While vacancies fell by around 160,000 between November 2022 and January 2023, there remained more than a million vacancies in the job market, around 300,000 more than pre-Covid levels.

Layoffs remain below pre-pandemic norms, despite the rise.

Lauren Thomas, economist at jobs review site Glassdoor said worries over redundancy were much more widely spread than redundancies themselves.

Glassdoor's website had seen discussions around redundancies jump by 51% in the UK in the 12 months to January 2023.

This figure leapt to 262% in the tech sector.

She added: “Tech employees are particularly concerned about layoffs.

“During the first coronavirus lockdown, discussion about redundancies rose much higher in tech than in other industries. Tech is a relatively young industry with lots of startups, which might mean more layoffs than other industries.”

Despite the prevalence of startups, however, the trend in mentions was broadly the same in every sector during the pandemic.

She added: “2022 tells a different tale – the pattern amongst tech workers has diverged from the trend seen in other industries, with tech mentions growing much more quickly. 

“This implies that this latest round of layoffs may be particularly concentrated in tech, an industry that hired rapidly during the pandemic but whose services are no longer as needed in the post-pandemic world.”