Mini Umbrellas – industry response

Industry representative bodies respond to recruiters use of mini umbrellas.

APSCo and the REC have responded to the BBC report yesterday which found that more than 40,000 people from the Philippines had been recruited to front British companies as part of mini umbrella schemes. “The agency work sector delivers huge benefits to the UK – finding a million people work every day in normal times,” said Kate Shoesmith, deputy CEO of the REC. “All agencies want a robust and fair market – that’s why we have been clear with government that umbrella companies need to be regulated, and that the loophole that allows mini-umbrellas to operate should be closed urgently. Without this, commercial pressure will drive further growth in this trend. We urge the government to help protect workers and agencies by dealing with these issues as part of the Employment Bill. This Bill is now long overdue, and we hope to see it announced in the Queen’s Speech.

Shoesmith went on to note that workers should always know who they are working for and that the use of Key Information Documents (KID) was introduced to ensure everyone has this information. “In line with the processes our members have established, the REC will seek further information from HR GO so that we can understand whether processes did leave workers unclear about who they were employed by,” she said. “The REC Code of Professional Practice requires members to act with integrity, transparency and to the highest ethical standards at all times, including around the use of umbrella companies and worker protections. Our advice to members is to always conduct rigorous due diligence on their supply chains. This is more important than ever right now.”

Meanwhile The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has said that it is shocked at the scale of the abuse. “The recruitment sector needs to be aware of risks across their umbrella supply chains which is why APSCo insists that all umbrella companies wishing to become APSCo Trusted Partners must go through a robust due diligence process,” says Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel and head of public policy at APSCo. “We also work with other bodies such as Professional Passport and the FCSA to ensure umbrella companies are audited and work in close contact with HMRC and BEIS as well as The Association of Compliance Organisations (ASCOR).”

She added: “We expect our members to offer workers a choice of umbrella companies and recommend an Approved Supplier List of APSCo Trusted Partners, FCSA and Professional Passport members which offers both choice in number and compliance protection for clients and workers.  We have worked on this basis for several years and this is in alignment generally with frameworks issued by the Crown Commercial Services.

“APSCo provides regular guidance to educate everyone in the supply chain to ensure that non-compliant and unscrupulous providers are not being used,” she said.

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