There is good news for IT Contractors this week, with the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) taking up the task of making sure that the next Government, recognises the unique position of IT Contractors – and aligns its policies to suit.
“The time has come for us all to think seriously and carefully about how the next Government, whatever it may be, is likely to affect us personally. In the current economic climate concerns about our working lives are rightly at the forefront of everyone’s minds and as members of the wider professional freelance community, IT Contractors must acknowledge the potential of Government policy to impact on their career.
In the past policymakers have often shown a woeful lack of knowledge when it comes to the flexible labour market. Highly skilled freelance workers such as IT contractors are a vital asset for UK plc, but policy often fails to distinguish between these workers and other types of low-skilled and low paid workers that could be at risk from exploitation. The end result is that the Government, quite rightly, tries to help the latter group but does so without recognising the existence of the former, those who deliberately choose to work on a freelance/temporary basis for reasons including higher pay and a more flexible lifestyle.
The Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) exists to ensure that policy makers make the important distinction between the two groups and thus avoid taking an ill-advised‚ one size fits all approach when it comes to regulation. Previous Government efforts to reduce abuse of the regulatory incentives that freelancers benefit from (for example travel expenses) also failed to recognise that the leading players in the freelancer and contractor industry are examples of how such services should be run, and therefore should be encouraged. Government recognition of this is essential, as it provides a way for them to drive up standards whilst preserving the taxation benefits that freelancers and contractors are rightly entitled to.
The FCSA is working hard to achieve this recognition, not least by liaising with HMRC on our code of conduct, which we have taken the decision to make public for this first time, via our website. The code of conduct encompasses the broad range of businesses that operate in the service providers sector, including umbrella organisations and businesses providing support services to limited companies. It outlines the professional standards that FCSA believe should apply to the sector and is designed to encourage best practice across the industry.
The release of the codes earlier this month, timed to coincide with the rebrand of the Association (formerly the Service Providers Association), was intended to make our proposition clear to all stakeholders involved with our industry, directly or indirectly. We hope our transparent approach will encourage others down a similar path. In the meantime we will continue to work towards a greater understanding of our industry and look forward to ongoing engagement with the IT contractors sector.”