Unite, Britain’s biggest union, is seeking legal advice and confronting employers attempting to circumvent the new tax regulations that tackle bogus self-employment which came into force on 6 April.
Unite has welcomed moves to tackle bogus self-employment, which is a major problem in the construction industry, where employers have evaded taxes and engaged workers without respecting employment rights such as holiday pay, sick pay and pensions. The practice involved workers signing contracts with payroll companies that class them as self-employed when in practice they work for a single company.
Talks are already underway with a number of major contractors as workers are being transferred back to direct employment.
Unite reached an agreement with electrical contractors NG Bailey for electricians working at Three Bridges Station in Sussex to ensure they were directly employed following workerprotests over attempts by the agency to set up an umbrella company. Unite says similar protests are expected on sites in Wales if contractors seek to evade their obligations to their employees.
Reports are being received about agencies attempting to avoid the new rules by forcing workers into so-called umbrella payroll companies. The agencies then seek to off-load the employer and employee national insurance contributions, as well as other benefits such as holiday pay, all to the detriment of the worker. Unite believes such actions do not comply with the spirit and intent of the legislation and is taking legal advice.
Unite lead officer for the construction sector in Wales, Bryan Godsell said:
“Unite has campaigned long and hard to end the problem of bogus self-employment. A practice that ultimately exploits workers and drives down pay alongside undermining national agreements.
Moves to tackle bogus self-employment are welcome but we fear companies are already looking for loopholes. Unite is seeking legal advice over concerns that employers are attempting to circumvent the new regulations.
We are urging our members in Wales to resist being pushed into payroll companies and insist on being directly employed and if necessary contact the union for support.”
Contact: Bryan Godsell on 07958 515333
Twitter: @unitewales Facebook: unitetheunion1
Notes for editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey