Sarah Arnold
Sarah Arnold

The Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) has launched revised Codes of Compliance, which it says are tougher and even more transparent than previous versions.

Following a review that took five months, the new codes provide added assurance to agencies, hirers and contractors, according to the FCSA.

In particular, member firms must now provide more transparency to contractors, particularly in relation to holiday pay in umbrella employment contracts and on payslips.

Umbrella companies have come under repeated fire this year, with claims some unscrupulous providers withhold holiday pay and other benefits owed to workers. In April MP Ruth Cadbury went as far as to call for umbrella firms to be banned due to “significant malpractice” in the industry.

Legitimate umbrella providers have argued, however, that especially given the introduction of new IR35 rules earlier this year, there’s a clear need for such structures.

“As market conditions change so too must our codes,” said Phil Pluck, the FCSA’s Chief Executive. “This is to ensure the highest standards of compliance are continued to be met by our member firms. Which is why now, we’re announcing the launch of our latest Code revisions.

“The most comprehensive and compliant set of evidence-based standards now exist in our sector. No one else in the sector can give contractors or the supply chain this level of assurance.”

The FCSA has also introduced new pre-requisite and due diligence checks on all new applicants, which must be passed before proceeding to the accreditation assessment stage.

It said each step in the assessment process is conducted by independent and regulated accountants and solicitors, all with considerable experience in the sector. No member of FCSA staff, the board or membership are involved in this process.

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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The quest for ‘meaningful work’ is the most important factor in choosing a job, according to a new survey by leading financial recruitment company Core-Asset Consulting.

In a survey of professionals working across the financial, accounting and legal sectors in Scotland, people were asked to rank the importance of eight factors in choosing a job.

Key findings:

  • ‘Meaningful work’ was most frequently ranked as the top reason in people choosing a job
  • ‘Pay & benefits’ was the most commonly cited 2nd, 3rd and 4th factors
  • ‘Flexible working’ was most frequently cited as the least important factor

Factors:

  • Career progression
  • Company reputation
  • Location/length of commute
  • Flexible working
  • Meaningful work
  • Pay & benefits
  • Work-life balance
  • Working culture

Commenting on the survey, Betsy Williamson*, Managing Director of Core-Asset Consulting, said:

“It may come as a surprise to many that ‘meaningful work’ is the most common number one factor in people choosing a job, particularly as this is a survey of financial, accounting and legal professionals.

 

“But however you interpret the term ‘meaningful work’, it seems clear that white collar professionals are now seeking much more from their career than material rewards. The implications for employers is far reaching.

 

“To retain valuable employees, companies need to clearly articulate the driving purpose of its firm beyond the simple pursuit of profit, and how a particular department, team and individual fits into this bigger picture. This can include things such as the creation of a financially secure future for customers, tackling environmental issues and transforming local communities.

 

“Failure to do so not only means employers will have staff retention issues, they will also struggle to attract the very best talent.

 

“It’s very much a candidate-driven market now – particularly in hard-to-fill areas such as risk and compliance. Companies that recognise the importance of ‘meaningful work’ will do better in attracting and retaining the best people.

 

“But all this comes with a caveat: ‘over-selling’ roles comes with a similar risk of creating disillusioned employees. A delicate balance must be struck between aspiration and authenticity.”

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61% of people looking for a new job in 2017 say they’d have a negative perception of any company that enforced a dress code.

Meanwhile, the majority of UK workers say they would feel more productive and put more effort into their appearance if there wasn’t a dress code, according to a study by Stormline.

78% of respondents said that even without a dress code, they’d still make an effort to dress well and would make a clear distinction between ‘work clothes’ and ‘non-work clothes’.

Of those, 91% said they felt the quality and condition of what they wore was more important than whether it complied with a dress code and they would be more likely to spend more on clothes if they had more choice in what they wore.

68% said they were more likely to trust a well-dressed colleague to do a good job than someone in the same position who ‘didn’t make an effort’, but clothing style and formality didn’t have a significant influence on perceptions of competence. This suggests that we want to dress to impress, but resent being told what to wear.

Of those who are required to observe a dress code which is sometimes relaxed (for example on ‘dress down Friday’), 61% say they feel more productive when the dress code is relaxed.

Attitudes to company dress codes between the sexes

Women Men
A strict dress code would give me a negative perception of a business 60% 62%
A strict dress code would give me a positive perception of a business 22% 24%
A strict dress code would not change my perception of a business 18% 14%
I believe workplace dress codes are discriminatory to the opposite sex 63% 77%
I believe workplace dress codes are discriminatory to my sex 81% 61%
I am more productive and happier when I can dress how I like (only respondents who work somewhere with a dress code that is sometimes relaxed, for example on ‘dress down Friday’ answered this) 58% 64%
I don’t believe workplace dress codes are useful (only respondents who work somewhere with a dress code answered this) 78% 82%

When asked to select the dress code requirement – from a list of common requirements –  that gave the most negative impression of a business, people were most likely to select something that affected themselves due to their sex.

The most commonly selected dress code requirement among women (59%) was being asked to wear high heeled shoes. Among men, the most commonly selected item was being required to wear a tie (41%).

Other requirements that created a negative impression of a business were restrictions on piercings (men – 12%, women 19%) and requiring tattoos to be covered up (men 17%, women 10%).

Occupational health expert, Sir Cary Cooper CBE, professor of organisational psychology & health at the ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, believes that formal dress codes have had their day. He said, “Uniforms and workwear that protect the wearer or help them be identified have obvious utility, but I don’t see the point in asking someone to wear a tie around their neck or to specify the colour of their shoes.

“Employers should trust their people enough to let them dress how they please. They may wish to advise on items they don’t want to see in the office, but to specify what they must wear is highly patronising.

“We must also consider the challenges of a formal dress code for people with disabilities, both hidden and visible, and chronic illnesses. Psoriasis sufferers, for example, may struggle wearing a buttoned up collar but may not feel confident in asking for exemption from the dress code.”

Regan McMillan, director of Stormline, thinks dress codes are useful to some industries and a hindrance in others and commented, “I think there’s a big difference between workwear, uniforms and dress codes. If you’re working in a dangerous environment, for example fishing, then the rules are about safety. If you’re public-facing, a uniform can help people identify you when they need you, but I can’t really think of a good reason why a web developer or a project manager would want – or need – to be told what to wear.

“Yet businesses in the UK still seem oddly keen on making their talent dress in specific, often very restrictive ways. Our research suggests that this sort of attitude could actually be harming businesses and their ability to attract the top talent, while creating some low level disgruntlement among their teams.”

Case Study

One respondent to the study, who didn’t want his name to be published, said that the dress code in place at his current place of work is the primary reason he is looking to move on.

He said, “I work in the I.T department of a financial services business, so on the one hand we’re a regulated company in a serious industry, but on the other hand, myself and my team spend a lot of our days in server rooms or under desks unplugging equipment, so wearing a suit just means we waste a lot of time taking our jackets off and putting them on again.

“The company policy here is strict, to the point that shoes must be black, men must be clean-shaven and shirts must be plain, not patterned. Ties are compulsory. I resent being told how to dress, especially when a lot of my friends who have similar jobs can dress how they like, doing the same work, but for more progressive companies.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Claire Leigh, managing director of Brampton Recruitment, shares her thoughts on holiday pay and how temporary workers can ensure they receive what they are entitled to.

Temporary workers have a contract with an agency, but work on a temporary basis for an employer. This differentiates them from full-time employees and the self-employed.

The Agency Worker’s Regulations (2010) which details a worker’s rights, state that all temporary workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday a year, pro rata.

As temporary workers may not have consistent hours, many do not understand how to calculate their holiday pay and entitlement.

Holiday pay is accrued at a rate of 12.07 per cent of gross pay, therefore it is important that workers keep a detailed record of their earnings.

To put this into context, if a temporary worker is paid £7.50 per hour they will accrue holiday pay at the rate of just over 90p per hour.

Keeping a record of how many hours they have worked may also be useful for temporary workers, but is not essential for calculating holiday pay.

Twelve weeks

Although holiday pay begins accruing immediately, after twelve weeks a temporary worker is entitled to the same working conditions and basic pay, or to be paid within the same salary bracket as a permanent member of staff doing comparable work.

In terms of holiday pay, this means if permanent workers are entitled to more than the minimum of 28 days paid holiday, a temporary worker should receive the same if they have been working for more than twelve weeks.

However, employer benefits which are calculated through a payroll system, such as healthcare might not be offered to a temporary member of staff. After twelve weeks if a temporary worker is with the same agency they will be enrolled onto an autoenrollment pension.

Help and advice

Recruitment agencies should be the first point of contact for any temporary workers concerned or confused about holiday pay or benefits. At Brampton Recruitment, we explain these rights upon registration and again upon placing a candidate in a role.

Temporary workers who have found their role through Brampton Recruitment will have this information in writing in a new starter pack, however we encourage anybody registered with us to get in contact for further advice if it is required.

Alternatively, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) provides advice on all areas of employment law, on its website and helpline.

As more people are turning to temporary work, it is essential that this growing pool of workers are aware of their rights. Although legislation can be confusing, help is available to ensure temporary workers fully understand their entitlement to paid holiday and other benefits.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has welcomed an Employment Tribunal decision that ruled that a temporary worker did not accrue holiday leave while on furlough, saying it provides much needed clarity for recruitment agencies.

Mr D Perkins v The Best Connection Group Limited (TBCGL) concerned a contract for services worker who had been placed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

The Tribunal was asked to consider whether or not the claimant should be entitled to accrue holiday pay while furloughed. It ruled he should not because he was not a worker for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

It also highlighted that the terms of his contract with the agency were such that the agreement only existed when he was on assignment. It specified that he would not “receive payment from TBC or its clients for any time not spent on assignment whether in respect of holidays, illness or absence for any other reason”.

As he was unable to work for TBCGL while on furlough, the judge ruled the claimant could not be interpreted to be on assignment.

The ruling is aligned with government guidance on the accrual of holiday pay for furloughed agency workers, which states: “Some agency workers on a contract for services may not be entitled to the accrual of holiday or to take holiday under the Working Time Regulations while on furlough because they are not workers or treated as workers under those regulations when between assignments or otherwise not working on assignments.”

Lorraine Laryea, Director of Recruitment Standards and Compliance at the REC, said: “One of the major issues for recruiters in 2020 as they considered whether to engage with the new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to furlough temporary workers, was whether holiday and holiday pay would accrue for those workers who were placed on furlough.

“The REC lobbied the government extensively to release guidance on exactly this, which resulted in advice being published in May 2020. However, this isn’t statutory guidance and it’s important to bear in mind that the judgment is a first instance decision, meaning that other Employment Tribunals presented with similar cases could reach a different decision.

“However, the analysis in this case, which draws out the specific nature of temporary workers on contracts for services and the interaction with the holiday pay legislation and furlough provisions, is compelling and in the view of the REC more accurately reflects how the law should apply in these types of claims.”

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Digitisation, strategic workforce planning and more agile HR are among the most pressing people management issues HR leaders should focus on during the post-pandemic phase.

That was the finding of a large-scale study carried out by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA).

The two organisations surveyed more than 6,600 respondents in 113 countries and interviewed more than 30 executives at leading companies and start-ups worldwide for the report entitled Creating People Advantage 2021: The Future of People Management Priorities.

“Our results offer critical guidance for CHROs, senior people management executives, and all other leaders – including CEOs – aiming to build a future-proof workforce and workplace to support execution of their company strategy,” said Jens Baier, a senior partner at BCG and co-author of the report.

Key focus areas
The report considered 32 people management topics, ranking them according to the future importance of each topic, as well as companies’ current capabilities for addressing each one.

The authors then came up with a list of three key priority topics, broadly defined as areas that respondents recognised as being highly important in future, but where their current capabilities were lacking.

The first was digitisation, including the use of new technologies such as people analytics, cloud-based applications, AI and robotics.

The authors noted that ‘digital, AI, cloud and robotics in HR’ was the capability ranked lowest by those surveyed, and by some way.

“This is a distressing result, given the prevalence of technology in all aspects of a company’s operations, including people management,” said the report.

The second was talent, including strategic workforce planning, leadership development, upskilling and reskilling, and working with an ecosystem of employees, contractors and other types of labour.

Within that, a key finding in the report was the need to create personalised experiences for employees. Of the survey respondents, 85% said focusing on employee needs and expectations was a key factor in succeeding in the increasingly intense war for talent.

“Companies today must navigate an exceedingly challenging business environment – and strong, proactive people management is the only way to ensure that companies have the right talent in place to succeed,” said Bob Morton, President of the WFPMA and co-author of the report. “A data-driven, objective approach that places people at the front and centre of work can help HR leaders allocate scarce resources to the most urgent priorities.”

The final topic identified was the future of work, including more agile HR, the incorporation of ‘smart’ work, and change management.

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The recovery of family businesses from the pandemic will be crucial in the rebuilding of the UK economy, according to not-for-profit membership organisation IFB Research Foundation (IFBRF).

 

The IFBRF’s latest report revealed that family firms were in rude health before the onset of the pandemic. Its research found that in 2019, family businesses made up almost 30% of the UK’s national income.

 

In the same year, more than 100,000 new family businesses were created across the UK, with 5.2 million family firms in total, employing more than 14 million people.

 

Sir Michael Bibby, Chairman of the IFB Research Foundation, said: “This latest report from the IFB Research Foundation shows how, before the Covid-19 pandemic, family businesses were playing a critical role in the UK economy. The evidence highlights how the sector had been performing well and was largely optimistic about the future.

 

“The pandemic is likely to have had a dramatic impact on the outlook, and expectations of many UK small and medium-sized enterprises and this report will give us a great base from which to analyse the changes especially given some of the sectors in which family firms are most concentrated have been those hardest hit by Covid-19.”

 

IFB Director General Elizabeth Bagger added: “This report from the IFB Research Foundation clearly shows how significant family businesses are to the strength, stability, and success of UK private enterprise. Before the pandemic, family businesses were growing exponentially. Family firms are the driving force across all regions, communities, and sectors of the UK and as such, are pivotal to the future prosperity of the country as we emerge from the pandemic. We must therefore ensure that family businesses are supported to recover and grow.”

 

She said that government-funded initiatives such as Evolve Digital, run by the Lancaster University Management School and part of a national research study aimed at feeding into government policy on small family businesses, should prove useful in helping businesses navigate the changing landscape.

 

“Supporting the adoption of new technologies can help family firms improve their processes and foster innovation, with the move towards these new technologies a trend which has been accelerated by the pandemic.”

 

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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People analytics solution will support recruiters managing hybrid & home working teams

Access Recruitment has added to its growing portfolio of staffing industry SaaS solutions with the acquisition of Bristol based NorthStar, whose solution brings appraisal, recruitment analytics and businesses mapping together in one place.

“We are passionate about innovating to help recruiters run and grow their businesses,” said Paul Vogel, MD of Access Recruitment. “The addition of NorthStar to our portfolio of recruitment software allows agencies to translate their data into meaningful action. With many businesses now operating hybrid home/office teams, it has never been more important to have full visibility of your business operations and also critically to support your consultants to develop their skills.

“We have a long history of working together, with NorthStar originally being built around our CRM product, Access RDB. The platform has evolved to support a range of recruitment agencies across the UK and ANZ and integrates with multiple CRMs, including our latest cloud-based offering, Access Recruitment CRM.”

A major challenge for agencies is managing a growing number of consultants as well as tracking key KPIs as they scale. Access NorthStar enables individual consultants to identify where they are performing well and show areas for improvement. Scores can be shared with their peers to create healthy competition and gives team leaders a ready-made appraisal tool to use with their consultants.

APSCO’s UK Recruitment Index, published in October 2020, highlighted that automation and better use of technology was a key area of improvement, with 40% of recruitment firms with net fee income (NFI) greater than £10 million scoring themselves below 7 out of 10 – and 35% of those with less than £2 million NFI scored lower than 5. The report also highlighted that the largest firms with NFI of £50 million+ gave themselves low scores for retaining talent.

NorthStar was created to solve these challenges by automating analytics to enable better staff performance and engagement by highlighting areas where productivity can be enhanced. The platform pulls data from within an agency’s recruitment CRM visualising it across configurable consultant, team and senior leader dashboards.

 

“We are so proud of the Northstar product and where the team have taken it,” said Darren Ryemill, founder of NorthStar. “For us, choosing The Access Group as an acquirer was a no-brainer, because we felt that they would be the best people to take the product even further and fulfil its full potential. We are really excited to see where they take to next.”

To find out more, visit www.theaccessgroup.com/recruitment/software/productivity-performance-software/

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The UK construction sector is experiencing the highest levels of demand in years as it strives to recover from the delays and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, this is good news for economic recovery, but David McCormack, CEO of HIVE360, says he is concerned for the mental health and welfare of workers as the sector looks to meet the resourcing challenge.

Workers in high demand

The construction sector needs an extra 217,000 workers by 2025 to meet the post-pandemic bounce-back. *According to the CITB’s Construction Skills Network, most English regions will experience an increase in construction workers, with the East Midlands (1.7%) and West Midlands (1.4%) set to lead demand*.

Over half (53%) of the 2.8 million people working in UK construction are self-employed, on an agency or zero-hours contract, so companies throughout the construction sector supply chain will inevitably turn to recruiters for help with finding and supplying workers.

The creation of new job opportunities is positive, but employers in the sector must follow best practice guidelines and be legally compliant – including with the new IR35 rules – to ensure existing and new workers are treated fairly.

Worker welfare and wellbeing

Globally, the construction industry has one of the poorest records for employee mental health and suicide. The UK’s Office for National Statistics reports the suicide rate in construction is over three times more than the national average – about 400 workers in the UK’s construction and engineering sectors take their own live each year.

UK construction workers are also vulnerable to modern slavery, which covers forced labour and human trafficking.

Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. It is estimated that there is a large number of people experiencing modern slavery within the UK construction industry**.  Labour employed via sub-contractors or agents are considered most at-risk.

Last year, the government published its long-awaited response to its consultation on transparency in supply chains. Among the measures is a commitment to ‘mandating the key topics that modern slavery statements must cover’, with civil penalties for non-compliance anticipated in ‘due course’. In March 2021, the government launched a new online registry for modern slavery statements, to enable more informed scrutiny of an organisation’s approach to supply chains, with the comparative quality of statements available for all to see.

The risks from modern slavery can occur anywhere in a construction company’s operations – whether this is through direct employment, contractors or subcontractors – and can include failure to pay workers the UK minimum wage, and child labour in extended supply chains.

All construction workers have the right to control their wages, have a written employment contract, be paid on time, keep their passport, choose where they want to stay, change their job, or join a union. As well as this, they should be treated with respect, paid fairly and protected by the law.

The Construction Protocol

The Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), is a Non-Departmental Public Body of the UK Government, and a national enforcement agency whose role is to protect workers from labour exploitation.

To tackle modern slavery in the construction sector, the GLAA has collaborated with leading construction companies to create the Construction Protocol, which brings in the same measures and guidelines seen in the fresh food sector that protect the health and wellbeing of workers.

All signatories have agreed to raise awareness within supply chains to help to prevent and protect construction workers from exploitation or abuse, and take necessary steps to ensure exploitation and abuse of workers is recognised and addressed with appropriate safeguards put in place to ensure that exploitative practice is not repeated.

As a GLAA license holder and signatory of the Construction Protocol, HIVE360 is committed to helping participating companies with payroll and worker wellbeing.

Added benefits

HIVE360 is an expert in recruitment agency PAYE outsourced payroll,  and our HMRC-compliant payroll solution guarantees a speedy and transparent service, with no nasty fees for workers. It also delivers efficiency gains from our payroll, digital payslips, pensions auto-enrolment and pay documentation support.

HIVE360 goes further with our unique customisable engagement app Engage.

Provided as a standard element of our outsourced payroll solution, Engage gives workers access to a range of health and wellbeing benefits and services: 24/7, confidential access to mental health support, counsellors and GPs, 1000s of high street and online discounts, huge mobile phone savings, online training resources, along with a secure digital payslips portal and a real-time workplace pension dashboard to support employees’ financial wellbeing. To ensure the safety of employees in the workplace, we have also introduced an incident reporting system which allows workers to raise serious issues or concerns with their employer directly through the app, anonymously if they choose to.

HIVE360 is an outsourced payroll and employee benefits expert that is championing a new model of employment administration and redefining employment and pension administration processing. Visit: www.hive360.com

References

*CITB: Construction Skills Network forecasts 2021-2025: UK

**GLAA: Construction Industry Protocol

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A new report from Gambit Corporate Finance’s Human Capital team sets out why business owners have a crucial six-month window of opportunity to capitalise on favourable market valuations, consolidation, hiring and demand trends before anticipated changes to the Capital Gains Tax regime are implemented.

The report, Human Capital Exit Timing Considerations, highlights the following key points:

Rising valuations – The Human Capital sector has seen a significant recovery in valuations since the initial onset of the pandemic, with valuation multiples doubling in the last twelve months – buoyed by interest from private equity companies who hold a record £1.7tn of dry powder.

Increasing consolidation – Recent quarters have seen a sharp rise in M&A volumes, driven by anticipated potential changes to rules around CGT, an abundance in the availability of capital from a supportive and flexible debt market, and cash reserves of publicly listed Human Capital companies have more than doubled over the last 12 months to 121%, enabling greater levels of strategic M&A.

Positive hiring outlook – Recent hiring data shows that job vacancies in the UK rose at the fastest month-on-month rate in 23 years in April according to the REC, driven by improving business confidence, skills shortages and a resurgence of permanent recruitment activity.

Sectors in demand – Covid-19-resilient staffing sub-sectors such as healthcare, IT, Professional and Engineering continue to see robust levels of acquirer demand as well as hiring resilience and buoyancy. Technology enabled assets in these markets are also attracting enhanced appetite amidst a wider ‘consolidation wave’ for staffing platforms.

Geraint Rowe, Partner at Gambit Corporate Finance and a Judge for the 2021 TIARA Recruitment Awards, commented: “This is a crucial six-month period for Human Capital business owners considering an exit to capitalise on optimal conditions for maximum value realisation. With CGT changes firmly on the agenda for the Autumn Budget, it is of paramount importance that business owners fully consider and analyse their realisation strategies with expert advisors to ensure that the window of opportunity is not missed.”

Simon Marsden, Director, Human Capital, added: “Market fundamentals remain strong, with demonstrable buoyancy across key metrics such as deal volumes, valuations, hiring data and levels of sub-sector activity. Human Capital business owners considering an exit are in the driving seat and have six months to ensure the value in their shareholding is optimised before any changes to CGT are announced in the Autumn.”

To read the full report, click here.

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