With the April deadline for the imposition of new travel & subsistence (T&S) rules fast approaching, it seems few employers are familiar with the changes and even fewer are willing to hike pay rates to compensate workers.
The new legislation, part of the Finance Bill 2016 and still in draft form, aims to restrict workers operating via employment intermediaries from receiving tax relief on T&S expenses but continues to be the subject of much debate in the staffing industry.
Research released today by industry bodies the FCSA, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), CBI and CIPD shows only 35% of the 470 employers surveyed are fully familiar with the changes.
It also shows only 8% of hirers plan to increase pay to compensate for lost income, and 79% of those who plan to keep their rates the same believe their decision will negatively impact workforce flexibility.
The group will present its findings to David Gauke MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, the minister responsible for the reforms. It will also highlight the findings with other MPs and key policy makers, as well as hold seminars for recruiters in Glasgow, Manchester and London.
A separate survey by contractor and recruiter services provider Advance, however, found almost half (42%) of the 100 firms it contacted already had post-April solutions in place for freelance, contract and temporary workers.
And as employers consider the impact, it seems the wider umbrella and payroll industry is far from finished lobbying for change.
Nathaniel Alexander, one of the players behind an industry consortium of interested and potentially affected parties known as Right the Wrong, tells Recruiter the group is well on the way to pushing for a judicial review.
The group has determined there is enough interest to seek legal advice on whether or not an application for a judicial review might be successful.
The about 20 members are now in the process of making financial contributions to help cover legal expenses, says Alexander, the development director for employment outsource provider consultancy Master Consulting.
Meanwhile, umbrella firm I-PAYE is lobbying government via a petition to exclude site-based workers from the new rules. I-PAYE business development director Sue Abel-Beswick told Recruiter the legislation unfairly traps some temporary workers.
The distinction between a temporary worker and a worker that attends a particular site for a temporary purpose – a building contractor, for example – needs to be better considered.
And PRISM, the employment intermediary trade body, is calling for a strategic review of the entire legislative framework relating to contractors. Its chief executive Crawford Temple says a complete review is the only way to end the “sticking plaster approach”.
“The overriding principle must surely be that the temporary worker has certainty and clarity over their tax affairs in the same way an employee, the self-employed or an entrepreneurial businessman does,” he added.
Earlier this week, shadow financial secretary to the Treasury Rob Marris wrote to the Chancellor supporting PRISM’s call for a strategic review after talks with Temple.
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