The introduction of a National Living Wage (NLW) next year is “sending shockwaves” through the UK labour market, with many employers scaling back plans to take on new staff, a survey by workforce experts Manpower Group suggests.

The UK jobs market currently stands at its least optimistic level in three years, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which is based on responses from 2,101 UK employers. 

Manpower Group’s data suggests employers are already reigning in their recruitment plans for the fourth quarter of 2015. 

The policy will see the introduction of a £7.20 NLW which will rise by 6% each year until 2020. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the extra costs could mean up to 60,000 job losses.  

James Hick, Manpower Group Solutions UK managing director, said: “The NLW is sending shockwaves through the UK labour market. Faced with a wage bill of this size, some employers are thinking twice about taking on new workers.” 

The new NLW could also prompt some employers to try and bypass the legislation by only recruiting younger members of staff who are not entitled to it, he added.

Earlier this week, Costa Coffee owner Whitbread said it would be raising prices at some of its chains to counter the cost of the NLW.