Opportunity Knocks

Charlie Cox, SThree Commercial Director discusses How to remain competitive in the face of IR35 

If we combine a global health pandemic with Brexit and then add the private sector IR35 reform into the mix, UK businesses have a lot to prepare for. That being said, these challenges and changes can create opportunity. Opportunities for businesses, for the flexible workforce and as a result, for the UK staffing sector.

At SThree we are positioned in the centre of two long-term secular trends – flexible working and STEM, both of which have seen increased demand throughout the pandemic, which is set to continue.

UK businesses who want to secure contractors with STEM skills to remain competitive on the lead up to and following the private sector reform need to ensure they make themselves attractive to the contract workforce. An easy way to do that is to ensure they properly understand the new rules that will be effective from April 2021.

So how do businesses remain competitive on the lead up to the IR35 reform?

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Businesses who already understand the benefits of a flexible workforce need to think about the impact the reform may have on them. Having a plan is important but it’s equally important to communicate that plan with contractors as well.

Failure to communicate timely, relevant and accurate information can spell disaster. Earlier this year, we saw many examples of contractors departing early as a direct result of clients falling short of effectively sharing their plan and strategy around the reform.

Informed contractors want to have confidence that the business they are providing services to understand what the reform means for both parties. As we know, it’s imperative that the business take reasonable care throughout the determination process. Taking reasonable care is a legal necessity – and a moral no-brainer.

Our data and insight shows that 70% of clients globally are struggling to find the right talent. If businesses want to retain as many of their existing contract workforce as they can, communication is key.

Get the set up right, and have your pick of the best talent

Well set up businesses, who correctly assess the workforce IR35 statuses and ensure they remain open to engaging with Limited Company contractors on an Outside IR35 basis, will have the pick of the best talent in the UK.

There’s a growing demand for STEM skills globally. So organisations must embrace changed ways of working, or risk limiting the talent available to them.

When it comes to options, contractors have a choice about where they work and provide services. If businesses can position themselves as a credible, knowledgeable organisation with the knowhow to make the correct determination, the talent pool is widened.

This sounds simple and mostly is. But a critical component of success is ensuring that hiring manager populations have the right skillset. Providing comprehensive training in this area will give businesses a competitive edge.

Pick the right partners

With an ever-increasing level of complexity in relation to staffing and the heightened risks of getting things wrong, ensuring UK businesses are working with compliant staffing firms who understand the nuances to the legislation is paramount. With additional liability that can now flow back to the client, ensuring that the staffing firms and any umbrella companies they are working with are both compliant is vital.

Supporting the flexible workforce

As UK businesses look to move past the pandemic while also navigating the Brexit transition, the UK flexible workforce will have a significant part to play in driving activity forward.

From speaking to customers, and with colleagues across the industry, there is evidence to suggest that against all the odds we are back in a good business rhythm now and it’s important that everyone plays their part to do everything possible to maintain that. The UK staffing business is pivotal to making this happen.

Flexibility – among end hirers, contractors and staffing suppliers – will be key when navigating the new environment we find ourselves in. Those who can adapt will likely fare better than others.

At SThree, we’ll continue to support both UK business as well as the flexible workforce to bring skilled people together to build the future.

 

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