Hays finance chief says Brexit uncertainty makes hiring overseas a logical choice for City firms

Oliver Gill
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London hiring since the Brexit vote has been particularly tough, according to Hays (Source: Getty)

The UK’s largest recruitment firm said City firms would choose job creation in Germany or France ahead of Britain while Brexit uncertainty remains.

Hays revealed trading in the UK, which represents around a quarter of its global operations, had fallen for the second quarter in a row, down 10 per cent on a like-for-like basis compared with the previous year.

However, overall trading fared better, up two per cent boosted by growth in Australia and continental Europe.

Read more: Hays eliminates debt as it continues with plans to double profit

Speaking to City A.M., Hays’ finance chief Paul Venables said:

The longer the uncertainty lasts, it means if a financial institution had to create another 100 jobs tomorrow do we think they will be created in the UK or do we think they will be created in Germany or France?

If I was a chief exec of one those businesses, I am more likely to invest in overseas than I am in the UK.

Read more: Hip hip for Hays: Strong growth overall despite slump in UK market

And the softness in Britain’s jobs market was likely to continue for the foreseeable future, Venables said.

“I think in the UK financial service market there will be very tight cost control, they [companies] will keep flexibility on labour, they will keep their options open.”

Euro working levy

On Wednesday, a House of Lords committee was told a £1,000 levy on recruiting European nationals was under consideration by the government, plans that Downing Street later firmly denied.

And Venables rebuffed the plausibility of such a policy. “I just can’t see that ever being implemented on lots and lots of grounds” he said.

That would be a really great way to irritate all of our European colleagues into getting the worst possible [Brexit] deal.

He added: “Recruiters take the pain up front, so we’ve taken our pain.” And this, he said, meant despite the challenging market in the UK business is on the up from its nadir.

Read more: Hays results indicate UK employers feeling cautious

“Across November going into December we started to see an improvement in the private sector business. We are are the largest recruiter in the UK, so it’s quite significant from that perspective,” he said.

Shares in the FTSE 250 firm were broadly flat in trading following the quarterly update.

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