OffPayroll.org.uk has relaunched its website along with a brand new umbrella section and FairScore rating system. This is designed to level the playing field between compliant and non-compliant umbrella companies.
Founded by James Poyser (CEO of inniAccounts), OffPayroll has become synonymous with the campaign for ethical treatment, fairness and transparency for contractors navigating the complex world of IR35, umbrella companies and agencies.
Developed in conjunction with industry experts and ethical umbrella companies, the new FairScore initiative aims to induce change in the umbrella industry, providing compliant umbrellas with an opportunity to make a public statement about their operational best practice.
- Enable umbrella employees to easily find compliant, fair and ethical umbrellas to run their payroll
- Provide transparency and level the playing field between compliant and non-compliant umbrellas until regulation comes into force
- Allow recruiters, agencies and end clients to make informed choices about labour supply chain partners
How FairScore works
- Umbrella companies can request a FairScore rating which assesses their operations against a comprehensive set of criteria associated with ethical and fair best practice.
- Working with the team at OffPayroll.org.uk, umbrellas will complete a detailed assessment covering five distinct areas of business, including:
- Background checks on company structure including offshore jurisdictions and director disqualifications,
- Compliance with specific tax and employment law,
- Fairness of working practices, including the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements,
- Fairness of commercial arrangements across the labour supply chain, including the use of kickbacks,
- and their commitment to conduct fair audits.
- Some questions are mandatory and if an umbrella fails to pass them then they will fail to get a FairScore rating.
- Once the assessment is complete, the information will be fact checked by the OffPayroll.org.uk team and FairScore will provide the umbrella with a score out of 100.
- The greater the number, the more ethical and fair the business is considered to be. This score will be benchmarked against other umbrellas to create a virtual league table of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Each umbrella page will also capture workers’ reviews, just as the original OffPayroll.org.uk company pages do, so people can see what sits behind the rating. Plus, each individual umbrella page will host a ‘flag issue’ function that lets people confidentially give the team at OffPayroll.org.uk a tip-off on operational concerns. These flags will then be investigated.
Producing a FairScore assessment takes considerable time, so priority will be given to the umbrellas who proactively come forward to be rated. In addition, those which receive the most votes from the community will be added to the priority list. OffPayroll.org.uk members can vote for the umbrella they want to be rated using the vote function on the specific umbrella page.
Regulation and funding are essential to ensure the umbrella market moves beyond lawful minimums
James Poyser, founder of OffPayroll.org.uk and CEO of inniAccounts, explains why he’s launching the new functionality: “When I wrote the policy with Rebecca Seeley Harris, we were motivated by the fact that the industry wanted to change. The unscrupulous behaviour had reached a tipping point and regulation was the only course of action to take to create a fair market. As such, many umbrellas backed the policy because it closes the loopholes that allow unethical practices and tax evasion* to persist.
“The Spending Review next week offers some hope that a Single Enforcement Body (SEB) will come to fruition and get the industry on track. But despite being announced in June, it is far from a done deal. A lot has to happen. The money must be allocated by the Spending Review next week so a SEB can be set up and maintained, and then there’s the paperwork and red tape associated with getting policy through and the body operational.”
“The good guys simply can’t wait for the formalities, which is why we have created a stop gap in the shape of FairScore. Umbrellas who are serious about change and regulation can make a very public statement about their business and intent. Those who are operating above board have nothing to hide and will score highly. This means that workers, recruiters, agencies and companies will have a very clear indicator of which umbrellas to work with and to avoid.”
Rebecca Seeley Harris, chair of the Employment Status Forum and former senior policy adviser to the Office of Tax Simplification, says that FairScore supports the work being done by existing professional bodies: “Britain should be a world leader on flexible employment and workers’ rights, but we are falling well short. And while we recognise the work professional bodies do to ensure baseline compliance it’s hard for them to do much more without regulation.
“The FairScore initiative will therefore build on their foundations as we continue to press for regulation. It will highlight to the full labour supply chain and HMRC the discrepancies that exist between umbrellas, and further underline the need to regulate the system. We can’t keep making excuses. We must use the Spending Review and initiatives like FairScore to raise standards and ensure that the fair and ethical treatment of workers goes beyond the lawful minimums.”