The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has responded to a report commissioned by the Prime Minister earlier in the year – Matthew Taylor’s independent review on modern employment practices – for which it gave evidence.
The report aims to offer protections for ‘gig-economy’ workers with insecure jobs.
“APSCo welcomes the concept of ‘good work for all’ and the Prime Minister’s support for enterprising small businesses,” said Samantha Hurley, director of operations at APSCo.
“APSCo broadly supports the proposal to classify workers as ‘dependent contractors’, who are not employees, but are eligible for workers’ rights such as sick pay, holiday pay, minimum wage, and a new right to request fixed hours, with a free pre-employment tribunal process. In terms of protecting vulnerable workers, this is a sensible suggestion.
“We further welcome the fact that this report offers a clear differentiation between this group of workers and independent contractors who willingly choose to exchange traditional job security for flexibility and control.
“The fact that the ‘dependent contractors’ will be categorised according to whether individuals are under the supervision, direction, or control of the organisation they are working for suggests that employment status will be aligned, to some extent, with tax law, which is what APSCo has previously called for.”
However, Hurley added that APSCo remained cautious regarding consistency of taxation across all forms of employment:
“As we stressed when we gave evidence during this review, contractors in professional sectors are experts in their respective fields that need to be sourced on a ‘just in time’ basis delivering specific services over a limited period for an agreed price enabling employers to manage budgets and workforce numbers as demand dictates.
“For those who aspire towards more stable employment, these recommendations will no doubt be welcome relief. However, as PwC recently reported, only a third of individuals working in this way do so in place of a secure full time job. For the majority it is a conscious decision.”
APSCo said that one disappointment is that this report focuses heavily on the lower-skilled, lower-paid end of the spectrum, rather than looking at modern employment practices more holistically – with no explicit recommendations around protecting our economy which is driven by high-skilled, well-paid contractors.
“While the lion’s share of media attention has focused on the gig economy, characterised by a perceived lack of job security, employment rights as well as the tax advantages of self-employment, the experience of workers in professional sectors such as IT, banking, finance, engineering and life sciences is very different – and we must not forget that the strength of UK plc lies in the flexibility of its workforce,” concluded Hurley.