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UK – Optionis urges government to rethink false self-employment legislation

19 February 2014

Optionis, the parent company of outsourced employment provider Parasol and contractor accountant ClearSky, has urged the government to rethink legislation to tackle false self-employment. According to the company, end clients rather than agencies should be ultimately responsible for the employment taxes of falsely self-employed workers. 

Rob Crossland, Chief Executive of Optionis, believes the draft onshore intermediaries legislation, due to come into force in April 2014, places an unreasonable burden on agencies in terms of both additional risk and administration and reporting.  

“In common with other Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) members, we support the aim of eradicating false self-employment and the exploitation of vulnerable, low-paid workers that comes with it.”  

“However, we believe that it is unfair to expect agencies to carry sole responsibility for the PAYE tax and employer’s National Insurance (NI) contributions of workers deemed by policymakers to be falsely self-employed.”

“Through the FCSA we are lobbying the government in an attempt to ensure that end clients, rather than agencies, are made liable financially. After all, it is the end client that is the main beneficiary of the work carried out by the individual. Staffing firms have been made to jump over one legislative hurdle after another in recent years, and the last thing the sector needs is more risk and more admin.”   

“We are concerned that genuinely self-employed workers will be unfairly and adversely affected by the proposed legislation as it stands. We are also seeking additional assurances that legitimate Limited company contractors operating through personal service companies (PSCs) won’t be caught by the legislation.”

“HMRC has suggested that the legislation will not cover PSCs, or indeed contractors who work through professional employment organisations or umbrella companies, but we would like this to be stated unambiguously in the legislation and the accompanying guidance. We are also concerned that the legislation conflicts with case-law definitions of self-employment”, Mr Crossland concluded. 

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