The Channel 4 Dispatches programme (aired Monday 19 January, 20:00) exposed some unethical practices that we have long been aware take place within our sector. As a professional body for umbrella employers and accountancy providers, the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) has long been campaigning to raise standards and stamp out such bad practice where it exists.
CEO Julia Kermode said:
“We are concerned to see such poor practice taking place, in particular because it unfairly tarnishes the many compliant businesses that work hard to ensure that they operate to the highest possible standards.
Any breach of national minimum wage is illegal and FCSA does not support, nor represent any firm that operates in this way. Channel 4 has illustrated the sort of abuses that can occur, which should not be tolerated. Indeed, FCSA is uniting the umbrella sector to proactively work with HMRC in developing policy changes that will specifically target these unethical practices, and ultimately eradicate such.
Whilst we welcome the Channel 4 expose, we also wish to redress the balance because umbrella employment is a positive choice for many. It enables workers to undertake a number of temporary assignments whilst having employment rights, all statutory benefits, and continuity of employment.
FCSA has a rigorous code of conduct that does not tolerate unethical practice, and our members are required to demonstrate compliance annually through an independent review undertaken by experts who are regulated accountants and lawyers. This distinguishes our members from the practices of some other umbrella companies that unfairly tarnish the reputation of our sector.
The message is simple, agencies, contractors and end-hirers concerned about poor practice should choose to work with FCSA members to be assured of the highest possible ethical standards.