FCSA is disappointed to see that government has not included an Employment Bill within the Queen’s speech, which could have delivered greater protection for contingency workers. Operating in the absence of sector regulation, FCSA represents over 75 compliant umbrella organisations working in the UK, which in turn support more than 120,000 freelancers.
Earlier this year, the organisation announced it was in favour of light-touch regulation of the sector, to better uphold and drive forward standards and compliance within the industry. Our CEO, Chris Bryce said:
“We were anticipating an employment bill to be included within the Queen’s speech, which could have delivered greater regulation and protection for contingent workers. It’s a missed opportunity from the government that they didn’t heed the industry’s call to introduce much-needed regulation for the umbrella sector.
“We absolutely support the introduction of effective regulation in the professional employment services sector, as we believe it will further strengthen standards in the industry, ensuring businesses comply with the spirit and letter of the law and thus better protect workers.
“We believe many aspects of employment law need to be urgently addressed – so, despite the disappointing news, it’s a goal we’ll continue to work towards in the absence of wider regulation.”
FCSA believes an outright ban on the umbrella sector would simply see unscrupulous operators exploit other employment loopholes. The Association is in favour of regulation but calls on it to be well-funded and policed, however our position remains that a misguided, outright ban risks leading to a situation where perfidious operators simply find other routes to capitalise on technicalities and this would leave workers without specific protection.
FCSA’s purpose is to provide contractors with a choice of trusted, ethical and compliant providers, compliant with both the letter and the spirit of the law. Regulation could go a long way in limiting the misconceptions of the umbrella sector; helping to push forward best practice among compliant operators and better protect workers across the UK. However, any regulation must be fit for purpose, and it must be properly enforced and policed. It is essential that such an undertaking is adequately resourced, as we know there are significant funds available to those who will try to avoid compliance.
FCSA are determined to continue to engage with relevant authorities – including BEIS and HMRC – to help shape regulation that will be effective in achieving its intended aims and that will protect the sector as a whole, including contractors and service providers.