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Past Event 

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This interactive specialist Online Panel Discussion looks into the unprecedented changes in UK working practices.

This online panel discussion follows on from our Gigworkers event on 29.9.20 where the panel also discussed “Are we all Now Gigworkers?” since then the world has turned on its head and we look again to see if the trend has been accelerated or changed. 

Created and promoted by Devonshire House and driven by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the TUC , Eversheds Sutherland, ACAS and the Institute of Employment Services,  this interactive specialist Panel Discussion looks into the significant changes in UK working practices as a way of understanding:

  • What the trends are?  
  • What are the emerging drivers?
  • Where is it heading?
  • Is it good news or bad news?
  • Are there any calls for action?

The Programme

12.30pm – Welcome – and Purpose – Charles Russam, MD, Devonshire House

12.33pm – Introduction to the Event and the Speakers by the Chair- Sophie White, Partner at Eversheds Sutherland.

12.40pm – Keynote Address from Clare Chapman, Chair of Acas.

12.47pm – Tony Wilson, Director, the Institute of Employment Services.

12.54pm – Paul Nowak, Deputy General Secretary, The TUC

1.01pm – Neil Carberry, CEO, The Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

1.08pm – Q&A

1.28pm – Summing Up, Sophie White, Partner at Eversheds Sutherland.

1.30pm – Close

(These are approximate timings and we have allowed a 15 minute over run to 1.45pm)

About this event

Some may see this as a re-run of our Event of the same title held on 29.9.20. (See a sense – yes- it is. But it’s a lot more.

Damage has happened. Some known about; some waiting to be confirmed; and some yet to be discovered. There’s been much change. And this will be continuing. Even the period between writing this text and meeting online, will have seen change. But it is so easy to dwell on the negatives. It’s time – now – to change tack – to get a fix on the real current position; to accelerate, discover and absorb relevant information and to work out what it means for our business, those whom we advise – and – importantly – for ourselves – our careers and our futures.

But there is a balance. Much has not changed. Some change has been for the better. What might have been seen as beating the drum for Independent working – or Gigworking, – for want of a better description – is now seen more as a light touch invitation to consider how working patterns and models are changing – and seeing the Individual as centre stage – and, certainly, as important as employers’ needs. Maybe more – in certain ways.

By way of next steps – let’s ask this question – “How do you make half a person redundant?”

This sounds like a negative question. Let’s see it as a positive question as we react to unwanted circumstances. This online Panel Discussion will seek to answer this question – and others – and consider its implications, provide information and assess the options. Businesses do not want to make people redundant. People don’t want to be made redundant.

This important Panel Discussion – with its ambitious plan for a 60 minutes zoom – will not provide all the answers – but will undoubtedly get you thinking about the where the dangers, risks and opportunities lie in the hugely uncertain business world now unfolding. But whatever anyone thinks – living and working through these massive upheavals in our personal and working lives does hold out, amongst all the risk and dangers, undoubted opportunities. This current situation is not of your making; not of your timing and maybe not of your choosing, but see it as a time for serious opportunities.


Created and promoted by Devonshire House and driven by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the TUC , Eversheds Sutherland and the Institute of Employment Services. This interactive specialist Panel Discussion looks into the significant changes in UK working practices as a way of understanding what the trends are. What are the emerging drivers? Where is it heading? Is it good news or bad news? Are there any calls for action?

The purpose of this online Panel Discussion is to understand the current position and the divide between the different types of work models. Of all the words used – including Typical/ Atypical and standard way of working – none really fully hits the target – But the word “insecure” probably gets close – more so with those on permanent payrolls than elsewhere. (Does “secure” mean a (one) job for life?)

“Gigworker” is the one that seems to capture the public and broader interest. If we can identify the trends and patterns in our working world, we can identify how we ought to react. We are looking for new insights, new knowledge and new solutions. The relevance of this is heightened by the advent of a new Government (new when we first proposed this Panel Discussion!) keen to do new things, some of which might seem to belong to others’ political dogma and some still treading water until Covid-19 is dealt with.

The purpose is not to be a missionary for Gigworking – nor an apologist. The purpose is to explain what it is, how it relates to other workplace models and to confirm its place in the range of jobs or work options available to all players in the UK workplace – or as much as can be covered in sixty minutes.

Event Chair

Sophie White & Eversheds Sutherland

Sophie is a partner in Eversheds Sutherland Human Resources group. She is a highly experienced employment lawyer, who advises clients on complex transactional and contentious matters across a wide range of sectors including healthcare, technology, media and telecommunications, engineering, real estate, construction, financial services and private equity.

Her experience includes: advising on the employment aspects of the IPO of Royal Mail plc, the European restructuring of a US Inc and the closure of UK operations of a European wide manufacturing company. She has written articles on subconscious bias for CIPD online and is the author of chapters on TUPE for Thomson Reuters and Redundancy for Tolleys.

As a global top 15 law practice, Eversheds – created by a combination of law firms Eversheds LLP and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, in February 2017, the firm provides legal advice and solutions to a global client base ranging from small and mid-sized businesses to the largest multinationals. They provide the full range of legal services, including corporate and M&A dispute resolution and litigation; energy and infrastructure; insurance and financial services; human capital and labour law; intellectual property; real estate and construction; and tax.

We are delighted to welcome Clare Chapman, Chair of Acas, to deliver our Keynote address. We will hear about the Acas view on the current state of play in the workplace and what we should be focussing on as we reflect on quantity and quality jobs – and if we can have both; what does the levelling up agenda really look like; and how we can all contribute to Building Back Better.

Clare Chapman and Acas

Clare Chapman became Chair at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) in July 2020.

Clare is the former Group People Director of BT Group Plc and Director General of Workforce at the Department of Health. Clare was also Group HR Director of Tesco Plc and HR Vice President with PepsiCo in Europe.

Key external appointments include Co Chair and Steering Group Member of The Purposeful Company, Non-Executive Directorships at The Weir Group, Heidrick & Struggles International Inc, and G4S Plc. Clare is also a Trustee of the Reconciling Leaders Network, part of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reconciliation Ministry.

Clare was previously a Non-Executive Director of TUI Travel plc and Commissioner on the Low Pay Commission

Acas – The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service – works with millions of employers and employees and their representatives every year to improve workplace relationships. They are an independent public body that provides impartial advice to employers, employees and their representatives on employment rights, good practice and policies and resolving workplace conflict. Please see for more information.

The need for Acas services at this highly charged and exceptional time is greater than ever – with huge and differing demands from employers trying to do the right thing and keep afloat and employees struggling to understand their rights. Acas’s excellent services offer an insight into some of tomorrow’s employment relations issues. Over the course of the last year, Acas has helped both individuals and organisations, respond to the workplace challenges they face – from avoiding redundancies, to responding to vaccine hesitancy, to safely returning to work.

Neil Carberry and the REC

Neil is CEO at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, joining the organisation in June 2018. Neil is widely regarded as an original thinker in the recruitment sector.

He began his career in recruitment, working for financial services firms and for a small search firm before doing a post-graduate degree in Human Resources at the LSE and joining the CBI in 2004. He is also a Non-Exec at ACAS, Chair of a primary academy trust, a Member of the World Employment Confederation and a Member of the Low Pay Commission. Neil is also an RFU L2 qualified rugby coach.

The REC – The Recruitment and Employment – is the professional body for the UK recruitment industry. “The REC is all about brilliant recruitment” is their mantra – achieved through being the voice of the recruitment industry, championing high standards, speaking up for great recruiters, and helping them grow.

The REC provides recruitment businesses with a wide range of training, legal, business and accreditation services and represents businesses through its corporate membership and individuals through the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP). The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) represents the interests of the private recruitment industry to government, business and media in both the UK and Europe.

All corporate members abide by the Code of Professional Practice and individual members abide by the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The REC is Recruitment’s biggest lobbying voice. As a source of knowledge and passionate about raising recruitment standards, the REC is dedicated to developing successful careers in recruitment and is committed to exceeding members’ expectations through business support.

An economic and social impact study of the recruitment industry

In order to better understand the value created by the recruitment industry, REC commissioned independent consultancy Public First to measure the industry’s economic and social impact. Using a combination of new modelling, research and extensive polling of workers and businesses, we sought to better understand the impact of good recruitment.

The industry directly employs 119,000 people and helps over a million other workers find a job each year in companies across the UK. Covid-19 has had a significant short-term impact on all of us – but the wider changes in flexible work and diversity look only to increase the importance of good recruitment in the future. Their study shines a light on three core themes:

  • Recruitment is a major driver of UK productivity
  • Giving workers new opportunities and supporting a more inclusive labour market
  • The recruitment industry can help accelerate the recovery.

Download the REC Recruitment & Recovery Report HERE

Paul Nowak and the TUC

Appointed TUC Deputy General Secretary in February 2016, Paul supports Frances O’Grady in leading the TUC and has been with the TUC for nineteen years. He works with external stakeholders on behalf of the TUC, sits on the board of ACAS and is also responsible for inter-union relations.

Paul first became a union member when he worked part-time at Asda aged 17, and has been a union rep and activist in the CWU, the GMB and UNISON. He was a member of the first intake of the TUC’s Organising Academy in 1998, when, aged 26, he was an organiser for BIFU, the then banking union.

In 2000, Paul joined the TUC’s staff, later becoming Regional Secretary for the North of England and subsequently Head of TUC Organisation and Services. In 2013 he was appointed to the position of Assistant General Secretary. At the TUC, Paul helped lead the campaign against the government’s plans for regional pay in the public sector, introduced the Leading Change programme for senior trade unionists, and worked closely with member unions to defend public sector pensions.

The Trades Union Congress – – is the national trade union centre in the UK, the federation of trade unions in England and Wales, representing the majority of trade unions. There are fifty affiliated unions, with a total of about 5.6 million members.

For interest, please see The Guidebook to the Trade Union Movement.

Tony Wilson, Director, The Institute for Employment Studies

Tony Wilson joined the Brighton based Institute for Employment Studies in 2018. Prior to this, He was Director of Policy and Research at the Learning and Work Institute; Policy Director at the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion; Head of Employment Policy at HM Treasury responsible for Labour market policy and analysis; spending control for employment programmes, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit.

Before this, he was at the Department for Work and Pensions responsible for various roles, mostly to do with employment programme design and delivery, employment policy and labour market analysis.

The IES is a leading independent centre for research and evidence-based consultancy. They provide insights on employment and human resource management topics to help improve policy and practice.

The IEC’s core business is research and consulting in all aspects of employment and people at work, using a range of approaches, tools and media to provide insight and support to policymakers and practitioners. Their full range of services can be seen at – 01273 763400

Charles Russam and Devonshire House

Charles is Managing Director of Devonshire House Network Ltd and also Working Free Ltd. He established the first mainstream Interim Management Search firm in the UK in 1982 which he sold to the current management in 2014 through an MBI.

Established in 1967, Devonshire House is a people-focused membership club for Director-level professionals in leadership roles who have an instinctive focus on the human side of Enterprise. Their aim is to create for their members thinking time and space for key business issues, and where people make the difference.

In normal circumstances, Devonshire House runs about ten main Events each year – a mix of formal dinners, buffets, Directors Forums, Panel Debates, Panel Discussions, and networking- based Elbow Room Networking Events – personal networking Events that seek to get as close as possible to face-to-face meetings. They also organise some other specialist one-offs. Please see

Working Free is a specialist career advisory business, supporting senior Director-level Executives coming off the permanent payroll into an independent working lifestyle. They like to assert that around half (see Note below about this 50%) the UK’s working population of 33m are “Self Drive Workers”. (A sort of massive gig economy – but hugely complex and continuously changing). They see the move – for a growing number of senior professionals – from Dependency to Independency – as a crucial niche in the Career Advisory, Coaching and Outplacement market.

(Note: Currently this (approx) 50% is 43% and Working Free attribute this missing 7% to the covid factor. Whatever opinions exist about what the figure should be, Working Free say it is a very high figure and needs to be reacted to!)