Steps To Accreditation

What does it involve?

If you are considering applying for FCSA Accreditation, you may have questions about what is involved in the compliance review process:

  • How do I apply?
  • Who will carry out the review?
  • What’s involved in the review?
  • What information do I need to provide?
  • What happens if I pass, or if I fail?

As a guide, we have produced this step-by-step summary of what the accreditation compliance review process involves.

Pre-requisites for Potential Applicants

The FCSA is the UK’s leading professional membership body dedicated to raising standards and promoting supply chain compliance for the temporary labour market. The scope of FCSA’s accreditation covers 3 types of business operation in the UK: umbrella employment, contractor accountancy and CIS payroll services.  In order to be eligible to for FCSA accreditation, all applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • A minimum of 2 years successful operation and 1 year’s full accounts for the service seeking accreditation
  • A minimum of 75 contractors successfully supported by the service seeking accreditation
  • Minimum financial liquidity requirement of at least 2.5% of the margin

The above minimum criteria are essential for FCSA to be able to assess applicants’ business operations in practice, not just in theory.  It is important to realise that FCSA accreditation is not just a tick-box exercise.  

The Assessment Process

In order to achieve FCSA accreditation, applicants are independently audited against our published standards.  The process requires applicants to provide documentary evidence of how they adhere to each and every standard.  In addition to the paperwork element, assessors conduct in-depth site visits to the applicant’s business to interview their staff, test scenarios, undertake random audits, listen to on-boarding calls and ensure that all policies and procedures are being implemented in practice.  

Step 1 – Choose a reviewer

The first step involves the applicant selecting a reviewer for the accreditation compliance checks.  All FCSA Code assessors are either chartered accountants or regulated solicitors and have at least five years demonstrable experience of specialising in the freelance sector. You can choose from the list below:

Financial assessors

  • BDO
  • Ernst & Young
  • Saffery Champness

Legal assessors (for umbrella and CIS applications)

  • Brabners
  • EY Law
  • JMW Solicitors

You will need to choose a financial assessor from the first list, and if you are applying to have your umbrella or CIS accredited you will also need to select a legal assessor. EY has a SRA regulated legal team , so if you choose them for the financial elements they will also cover the legal aspects.  If you choose BDO or Saffery Champness to be your financial assessors, then you will need to choose a legal assessor from Brabners or JMW Solicitors, as listed above.  The cost of the application is the same whichever assessors you select.  

Step 2 – Notify FCSA

Once you have selected your reviewer, you will need to notify FCSA Chief Executive, Phil Pluck and pay the cost for the review directly to the FCSA. The FCSA will then ask the reviewer to commence the review.

Step 3 – The 3 stage review process

The review involves a 3 stage review process:

  1. Self-assessment – the applicant is asked to answer a set of questions and provide all supporting documents requested. The reviewer will then assess all answers and documents.
  2. Sampling – the applicant will need to provide the reviewer with an anonymized list of workers and pick a sample for review. All requested documents for the sample must be provided.
  3. Site visit – if your documents and sample pass the desk review, the reviewer will visit your premises to interview key members of staff.

When will I know if my firm has passed?

Once all their queries have been answered, your assessors will report their findings to FCSA.  You will be informed of the outcome as soon as possible thereafter. 

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