Julia Kermode, chief executive of the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) joined Matthew Taylor in Coventry on 23rd March 2017 as part of Mr Taylor’s nationwide tour to discuss modern employment practices and gather evidence that will form the basis of his review due out in the summer. To a packed audience that included academics, union representatives, policymakers and gig economy workers, Ms Kermode took the opportunity to shine a spotlight on umbrella working and dispel some of the myths.
Other stakeholders attending alongside Ms Kermode were Simon McVicker from IPSE, Dr Jennifer Ferreira from Coventry University, Hannah Reed from the TUC and Roger Maddison from Unite. As well as Matthew Taylor, who is chairing the review, his co-panel members included Paul Broadbent from the Gangmasters Licenseing Authority and Greg Marsh, founder and former chair and chief executive of onefinestay.
Commenting on the experience, Julia Kermode said: “I was delighted to be asked to Matthew Taylor on his panel in Coventry, to take part in such an important discussion and contribute evidence to the review, the findings of which are du to the reported in the summer. It is important for Mr Taylor and his colleagues to understand that 23% of the workforce is currently engaged in non-permanent working and most of them have chosen to work in this way. I was concerned that the review conclusions he might suggest to the Prime Minister could have adverse implications for some, however Mr Taylor confirmed that the review has no intention of disrupting this important workforce.
“It is essential that he looks at the exploitative working practices of some employers as part of this review and we are keen to see greater transparency throughout the supply chain, and that end-hirers should be aware of their entire workforce. Whilst permanent employees are usually supported and treated well, hirers also need to consider their contingent workforce and ensure that they are not being exploited by unscrupulous providers. Today, I heard some assurance from Matthew Taylor that he supports the cause that FCSA has fought hard for in seeing an end to false self-employment, and I was pleased to learn that he supports initiatives to drive out poor practice.
“Today’s platform also gave me the opportunity to dispel some of the myths around umbrella working, and I heard about poor umbrella practices experienced by some of the audience suggesting that they weren’t employed and had no rights. However, as a valuable part of the supply chain, good umbrella firms enable individuals to receive all benefits of employment whilst working on numerous different short-term assignments. Compliant umbrella firms are wholly transparent in their dealings with workers, providing them with a clear contract of employment, all statutory rights and benefits, and transparency in how their pay is calculated. That message needs to be taken on board by the review panel so that we do not end up with a one-size fits all decision being put forward in the summer. It is important that all types of workers are properly considered.”