Recruitment sector update during Covid-19: Q&A
  • Quick Order
  • Wishlists
  • 0
    £0.00 ex VAT

Recruitment sector update during Covid-19: Q&A

21 April 2020 By Lizzy Grayson - Category Manager of HR Services at YPO

business man asking a question in meeting

YPO held a webinar to answer a series of questions to provide support and guidance to framework users and providers during COVID-19.

YPO held a webinar to provide support and guidance to framework users and providers during COVID-19.

YPO and other PBO’s are in a good position to share information and guidance across the public sector, we are able to see nationally how we are reacting to these different and ever-changing times.

YPO, NEPO, ESPO and CCS are working together and holding two weekly calls to review the situation and impact on recruitment and on a national basis, guidance and support should then be consistent.

The intention of the webinar was to generate some discussion through questions and answers, these are detailed below:


Q. My current MSP is due to expire in the next few months. Can I extend beyond my original call off if I have exhausted all my extension period?

A. Cabinet Office announced a PPN which was a Procurement Policy Notice in response to Covid-19. This document states that regulation 72 of the Public Contract Regulations may provide some flexibility in contracting authorities carrying out an extension period or other amendments. The PPN can be found here

YPO aren’t in a position to advise your organisation on it’s position and you should speak to your legal team about any potential extensions. We do however see the above PPN as an option to extend your current call-off due to the current situation. IT’s unlikely that you will get stakeholder buying and effective provider engagement during COVID-19. Temporary recruitment is also a large contract to re-procure and your focus as an organisation may be on other more pressing matters.

Due to the changing landscape of the recruitment sector we would suggest that any extensions are only on a short term basis, such as 6months with an option to extend for a further 6months.

Q. Have you had a discussion with MSP’s about the quality of candidates? We don’t want to waste time?

A. YPO and other PBO’s have spoken to MSPs about the quality of candidates, we would suggest that you also have this discuss with your MSP.

WE expect providers to only submit candidates that can deliver the roles requested, sifting candidates should be a top priority with agencies and MSP to ensure they don’t waste a contracting authorities time.

It is also know that MSPs are being more flexible with how they review candidates, they are looking at people with skills sets that might match the requirement in a more proactive manner. We encourage contracting authorities to have conversations with the MSP on this and ensure that the skills are outlined clearly from the onset in job specifications.

Q. Sometimes role are held by our MSP, we have suggested this doesn’t happen throughout COVID-19, can you discuss this with providers?

A. Roles are often held by an MSP dependant on the model (hybrid, master and neutral) and it is also dependant on the agency supply chain tier with in the MSP.

YPO are working with the providers to ensure that they are looking at this during COVID-19 and not holding onto roles if they know they wouldn’t be able to fill them.

We do recommend that contracting authorities speak with the MSP and highlight any key roles that need pushing through the supply chain faster than usual to ensure it does not slow down the recruitment process.

YPO would not expect any MSP to hold onto roles during COVID-19 unless they are 100% sure they will fill the role within 24hours.

Q. Are all providers still able to continue supplying roles – are you keeping in touch with them?

A. YPO and all PBOs are keeping in touch with the providers at the moment. We are working with them all to understand how they are predicting any peak periods and if they foresee any issues with delivering contracting authorities requirements. We know that different regions of the country may fluctuate in demand which will impact different providers and contracting authorities at different times.

MSPs are aware of this and PBO’s are working closely with them to understand if there are any struggles regionally. We are talking to them all on a regularly basis and are aiming to be in a position to share any crucial information when it becomes apparent.

No struggles are yet been seen across the providers, but we will feed back anything we find out.

Q. Can I get any support on re-deploying agency workers into other roles?

A. It is recommend that a skills analysis is done using the support of your MSP to review where you can re-deploy appropriately skilled temporary workers into frontline roles. Try working with your MSP to move the workers in first instance if possible.

Q. Should I carry on with my re-procurement during this time or hold off until things calm down?

A. This depends on where you are in the process and the time you have to do this, It will completely depend on numerous factors such as stage of the process, market place, authorities priorities etc.

YPO would suggest that you speak to a  public buying organisation and understand your options. PBOs are able to give out advice relevant to your contracting authorities position. 

YPO can support with any help you need with developing a direct award or further competition, if that means just getting some advice, filling out documents or speaking to providers in an engagement process we are happy to help.

Q. Should we be accepting higher rates for workers throughout COVID-19?

A. All providers on YPO frameworks have been asked about rates in relation to COVID-19, at this stage no provider has advised that rates should be changing due to the demand. As far as we are concerned there should be no increase in any agency or managed service fees over the coming weeks.

When recruiting temporary workers, we suggest that where possible you still recruit at the rates you have done previously. At times it may be suitable to have a conversation with your managed service provider about any flexibility in some hourly rates, we would only suggest this if the hourly rate previously agreed isn’t in-line with the current market rate. The market rate should be known by your MSP. Communication will be key for both the provider and authority is placing some of these roles.

Your MSP provider may be in a position where some agencies are getting onboarded with an MSP and may demand higher rates – those conversations need to be had to understand why this is happening and find out if there is any added value for a particular agency been on your supply chain. 

In regards to workers, the rates may change regionally depending on demand. Try and keep to the rates you originally procured your call off to.

We are seeing some agencies in key worker areas that are trying to come through with higher rates/fees. The PBOs will be working together and trying to find ways to ensure this does not happen across peak.

Q. What are MSP providers doing in the market?

A. YPO and other PBO’s are working closely with the providers in the market to understand how they are managing the situation. We see that they are:

  • Reviewing all supply chains for frontline services and roles.
  • Communicating effectively with their hiring managers and contracts managers to understand how things may develop over the coming weeks.
  • working closely with their supply agencies to understand their demand patterns
  • Managing pay rates to ensure demand doesn’t fluctuate rates etc.
  • Working closely with P’O's to provide an insight into the sector, it’s then allowing us to share this information easily.
  • Supporting on government guidance

Managed Service providers are reacting quickly to developments in the sector and I’m sure we will continue to see this.

Q. How are you and ESPO working together, we are use both of your frameworks?

A. All PBO’s are working together and having two weekly calls as a group to discuss various things such as joint messaging on regulations and guidance, market pricing, working together with providers and many other elements that we believe may impact recruitment over the coming weeks.

During COVID-29 we appreciate that people need information as quickly as possible so all buying organisation have framework information on all of our recruitment offerings so we should be able to help you with any enquiries.

We are openly working together to ensure that customers are reviewing the most appropriate offering to meet their needs.

Q. If we did re-procure now would it be possible for an MSP to implement?

A. This will depend again on your situation, if this is a 2nd generation contract or you are awarding to an incumbent provider it may be easier but if you’re implementing a first generation contract it may be more difficult.


We would suggest speaking to a buying organisation so they can support and advise specifically for your needs. It will depend on your position, the providers position and how digital tools could support you in implementation.


It will also depend on how the providers are working at the moment and if they have the capacity to review your procurement. The answer will most likely be yes, as all providers  are working as normal.


Q. If I just need a team of social workers is there anything that can help?

A. Initially always utilise your MSP or usual recruitment method if you can. However, if you are struggling within your usual MSP to get this service, then there are other ways to do this.

YPO have lot 11 on the Managing temporary and Permanent Recruitment framework, this is an RPO solution. The framework will allow you to pulling together teams of temporary workers or pools of talent.

It is expected that during peak there may be additional demand across frameworks to be used in different ways.

We are already starting to see that contracting authorities are looking to develop solutions via lot 11 of the framework for teams of workers.

Q. Are councils following the guidance around the payment of temporary workers?

A. YPO have spoken to the majority of contracting authorities that utilise our framework and we would say that 85% have committed to paying temporary workers inline with the PPN published by the cabinet office.

We have seen that some authorities are paying the full 100% but may drop it to the 80% over a set period of time or some authorities are paying the 80% suggested in the guidance.

It should be noted that central government have to follow the guidance but it is only suggest for other public sector organisations. YPO decided to support the guidance because nationally we feel it will support the recruitment market now and in the future.

We have spoken to some authorities that have decided to not follow the guidance and this is acceptable, MSP’s should not be pushing this if the authority has made their decision.

I would specifically like to make reference to point 17 in the Q&A section of the PPN, as we have been asked this several times. Point 17 states that suppliers or contingent workers can’t claim back through the job retention scheme as set out by the chancellor.

What we are seeing is that this new guidance doesn’t impact high volumes of workers in most cases (type of authority dependant). We are seeing that contracting authorities are utilising these types of workers to deliver alternative roles within the frontline services.

Q. There’s only so many social workers in the UK, would there be a way for YPO and ESPO to work together to make sure us councils share resources where relevant?

A. This is something that YPO and ESPO have discussed and we will be reviewing this over the next few days and weeks. The difficulty we will have is that we can’t enforce anything, we would need authorities to work openly with us to try and facilitate this.

Q. We are speaking with our MSP provider about developing stronger supply chains in some key areas but they don’t seem to be reacting to this?

A. If your MSP is not reacting or not able to do this then speak to your PBO immediately. As far as we are seeing providers are working hard to ensure they are developing strong supply chains for frontline services.

We know that some MSPs will have strong supply chains in key specialist areas already so this might by why you haven’t seen an impact.

MSPs are creating plans so they can react to the demands across key roles from across the different regions in the UK.

Q. Is there a list of the specialisms that providers can offer your frameworks?

A. YPO has spent the last few weeks working with providers on our recruitment frameworks to understand their strengths when it comes to recruitment particular frontline services. This document is available directly from YPO and will allow you to see which providers specialise in which categories.

YPO have also created an overview document that highlights the ways to procure across our framework for all public sector organisations.

We do recommend you speak to us or your current PBO to get this information on understanding what is available for key specialisms.

Q. Our procurement team is struggling to resource everything at the minute are PBO’s providing extra support

A. The PBO’s are in a position to support contracting authorities during this time. We can support with the process if this is needed and provide you the extra resource where we can. This could be to support on building the direct award/further comp or any other admin related tasks that will help you turn around procurements quick and easily.


If you have any further questions for our Category Manager of HR Services, Lizzy, please don't hesitate to get in touch or leave a comment below! You can also catch up and view the live webinar discussion:

Leave a comment