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[LONDON] Hiring in London fell sharply after Britain's vote to leave the European Union as finance, property and construction companies were reluctant to take on new staff, international recruitment firm Hays said Tuesday.
Hays, which places workers in areas such as finance and IT, reported a 10 per cent year-on-year fall in net fees at constant currencies from the UK and Ireland in the three months to Sept 30, after a 4 per cent fall in the preceding three months.
The biggest impact was in London, where net fees tumbled 17 per cent.
Staffing firms such as Hays, PageGroup, Robert Walters and SThree are seen as gauges of wider economic health because people tend to switch jobs more often when confidence rises.
Although British consumers have taken "Brexit" in their stride, helping the economy show some resilience, surveys released earlier this month have suggested firms are cautious about investing, stoking fears unemployment could rise.
Hays, which makes just over a quarter of its net fees from the UK and Ireland, said hiring for permanent jobs in the UK had stabilised following a step-down in activity immediately after the Brexit vote in June.
It said net fees for temporary UK placements fell 11 per cent in the quarter, the first of its financial year.
Overall, however, it said total net fees grew 3 per cent at constant currencies, helped by strong growth in continental European markets such as Germany and France. "To date, we have seen no evidence of contagion into Europe following the outcome of the EU referendum," it said in a statement.
At 0720 GMT, Hays shares were up 2.8 per cent at 139.2 pence.
Last week, rival PageGroup said confidence among employers in Britain was "fragile" following the Brexit vote, with multinational firms holding off from hiring, particularly in the financial services sector.
However, smaller peer Robert Walters noted some pockets of growth in its quarterly results on Monday, saying hiring levels in London investment banking had picked up in recent weeks.