Firms set to delay hiring ahead of EU vote

The EU flags  Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
The EU flags Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire
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BRITISH firms are likely to delay hiring decisions ahead of a referendum on EU membership, the head of recruitment firm Hays said, although he added that growth in other parts of the world should offset any weakness.

Chief executive Alistair Cox said he was mindful of the effects that Britain’s June 23 referendum would have on his clients, but Hays maintained a positive outlook after it posted an eight per cent rise in underlying net fees in the first half of its financial year.

The company, which places workers in areas such as finance, construction and IT, said it had seen strong growth from regions like continental Europe and the rest of the world, although Britain and Australia slowed towards the end of 2015. It employs 180 people in Yorkshire across 16 offices.

“There is uncertainty around the world, every time there’s any election there will be a period where clients and candidates step back and slow down their decision-making,” said Mr Cox.

Group net fees rose to £397m for the six months ended December 31, from £384m a year earlier. Paul Venables, the group finance director, said that over the six-month period, the private sector in the North was up three per cent, but the public sector was much quieter.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “Leeds has been doing better than the rest of the North because of its strength in the IT space. What we expect to see is a little bit less incremental investment in the run-up to the EU poll.

“I believe the UK economy is in a good place, and what we are witnessing is a pause for breath in the private sector.”