Chris Bryce, the new CEO of the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA), has said that the body may “name and shame” non-compliant umbrella companies. With the FCSA looking to raise standards in the umbrella industry, Bryce said that naming companies that don’t meet tax obligations and compliance practices was “a possibility”.
Speaking in an interview with Recruiter, Bryce said that, despite HMRC publishing a list of non-compliant firms, he didn’t “see why FCSA wouldn’t be able to do that”. Bryce added that, although the FCSA would need to be “cautious” from a legal perspective, “where we have conclusive evidence of bad actors, I see no reason why we shouldn’t publish the evidence and ‘name and shame’.”
However, Bryce, who left his role as CEO of the IPSE to succeed Phil Pluck as head of the FCSA in January, added that this was merely his personal view and that such an approach would need to be discussed with the FCSA board.
Non-compliance in the umbrella sector has become a much-discussed topic, particularly in the wake of IR35 reforms introduced in April 2021, which saw umbrella company usage increase significantly. The issue led to a three-month consultation from HMRC, the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which concluded in February.
In the interview, Bryce was asked whether he felt the consultation would have any impact on IR35 rules, but responded: “It’s always nice to think that government might change its mind on IR35. However, that’s not the remit of this consultation, so I very much doubt any influence in that direction.”
Finally, Bryce also discussed cybersecurity, in the wake of several attacks on umbrella companies, and said: “FCSA has to take the view that all umbrella companies need to be ever more vigilant about cybersecurity, that they need to have plans in place to deal with any attacks and any system outages”.
Bryce added that such plans “must be focused on communicating to and getting payments to” umbrella company workers and that the FCSA was “actively reviewing what we can do to help that happen, and to perhaps amend our codes to reflect the requirement for cybersecurity”.
Author: Steven English