The global drive for clean energy generation and innovation has never been greater as our focus increasingly turns to net zero targets and a more sustainable future.

However, the development of technologies, energy generation, transmission, distribution and maintenance and operation of related infrastructure is all reliant upon securing and retaining staff with the necessary technical expertise and experience – be it engineers or digital and IT experts. 

In the second part in our green skills gap series, our employment experts discuss ways to address the gap, including tips for attracting and recruiting talent, engaging contractors, supporting the health and wellbeing of staff and how to protect your business when people move on. 

Attracting and retaining talent

  • Given the current challenges employers face in recruiting top talent, particularly in the Clean Energy sector, recruitment and retention strategy may need to be refreshed in the light of the current ‘seller’s market’ for staff.

  • We’d recommend employers consider their overall remuneration packages and explore possible ways of enhancing these. Options range from employee ownership to innovative pay structures and bonus schemes, and our team can advise on these.

  • We would also recommend considering the use of increased flexibilities around working arrangements to provide a competitive edge and scope to expand your geographical recruitment base. This may require amendments to your employment contracts to include, for example, hybrid working.

  • Other options for attracting and retaining staff could include staff retention and recruitment bonuses, upskilling employees through Learning and Development programmes, undertaking pay reviews and introducing contractual provisions designed to encourage staff retention – for example, ‘bad leaver’ provisions in incentive schemes, and repayment clauses for staff training.

  • Strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria and Equality Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) credentials may also assist in attracting talent: these are seen as ‘baseline’ requirements for job candidates, and a positive approach to equalities will also ensure that employers are recruiting from the widest pool and on merit alone.

  • We can help to advise on the best way to improve your ESG and ED&I credentials, including implementing detailed diversity and inclusion training, and considering approaches to potential data gathering and voluntary reporting and equalities strategies. Listen to our employment law podcast series.

Engaging contractors

  • Given the volatile nature of the sector, and the difficulties in recruiting employees, employers working in clean energy can be heavily reliant on contractors to deliver regular fluxes in demand and client specifications. However, there are risks inherent in engaging contractors, including potential employment law and tax risks if these contractors are deemed to be employees or workers.
  • It's therefore important that employers consider how to engage contracting staff appropriately and to navigate the tax issues such as IR35. We’d recommend ensuring that you have a robust contractor agreement and that you have a well thought through recruitment policy to help mitigate these risks.

Supporting the health and wellbeing of staff

  • The importance of physical and mental health is more widely becoming recognised as a key component of running a productive and stable business and retaining staff, especially following Covid-19.
  • With Hybrid and remote working arrangements (whether necessitated by the pandemic or in response to the cultural shift in attitudes towards atypical working) having become part of the ‘new normal,’ it is important to continue to ensure that the health and wellbeing of staff who are out of ‘line of sight’ management is protected – both in terms of physical and mental health.
  • We therefore recommend you have appropriate policies and procedures in place to assist you in protecting the physical and mental health of employees, and to ensure that any employee absence is managed proactively and appropriately, including any mental health and disability related absence. Our team can assist with a review of these policies and procedures, and can help you navigate any sickness management.

Protecting your business when people move on

  • In a highly competitive staffing market, post termination restrictions are even more important. Of course employees move on, but if they take their customers or colleagues with them to a competitor, or indeed, any intellectual property, it can have a devastating effect on an unprepared business.

  • We’d recommend establishing appropriate restrictive covenants and garden leave provisions that safeguard your business interests, and taking legal advice on these to ensure they have the best chance of being enforceable.

  • We’d also recommend ensuring you have robust intellectual property clauses within your employment contracts and contractor agreements, to ensure that your intellectual property is properly protected.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at June 2022. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

Date published

13 June 2022


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