Sunday, 15 May 2016
WELCOME to the world of 'flexible employment'. According to the UK Department for Business, Innovation, & Skills (BIS), there are an estimated four million temporary workers in Britain, who work for what are called ,'umbrella' companies.
An umbrella company is a company that acts as an employer to agency contractors who work under a fixed term contract assignment, usually through a recruitment employment agency in the United Kingdom. Recruitment agencies issue contracts to a limited company as the agency liability would be reduced.
It has come to our attention that the Labour controlled Tameside Council, is recruiting staff to undertake various jobs via what is euphemistically termed, 'flexible working'
practices, which involves a person working through an agency, an administrator, who in turn, set up a company limited by guarantee, who become the persons sole employer.
In this particular case, Tameside Council (the end client) have been hiring workers through 'Service Care Construction' (the agency), who employ 'Freelance Professional Services Ltd' (FPS), (the company administrator - payroll operator), who then create a company for a particular worker. These companies are often recycled as contracts end and new contracts are entered into. 'Service Care', work with over 250 local authorities, 100 housing associations, and many clients in the private sector across the UK. FPS, are based in Ramsey, Isle of Man, a well- known UK tax haven. The aim of this kind of structure is to circumvent many kind of UK regulations such as employment rights and EU directives.
An unemployed Tameside resident who wishes to remain anonymous, recently sought temporary full-time work with Tameside Council through 'Service Care Construction'. Although he'd previously been on the governments 'Work Programme' for two-years, he completely lacked the necessary computer skills to complete the highly complex recruitment process which was mainly done online, even though he'd been given the job. In desperation and in fear that he might lose the job before he'd even started, he phoned a friend for help.
We are reliably informed that the first stage of the recruitment process took 4 hours and a number of phone calls. Completely baffled, he was asked to submit numerous pieces of documentaion online and to sign a digital contract that required six signatures. References, driving licenses, utility bills and his P60 all had to scanned in the right format for it to be emailed. All this, and much more, simply to get a temporary labourers job! One might ask, just what is the world coming to?
But this was not the end of it. Stage 2 involved protracted negotiations with 'Freelance Professional Service Ltd' who pride themselves on providing a "cheaper and much less hassle" free way of setting up and running your own limited company, even though the beleaguered and by now, suicidal labourer, didn't want one in the first place. This process required him to sign away many of his employment rights and to give an undertaking to work flexibly and to opt out of the EU 'Working Time Regulation' in order to get paid.
It seems nowadays that in Tory Britain one needs the skills of a Philadelphia lawyer in order to apply for the most menial of positions. Why a Labour council enagages in such shabby employment practices with companies of this kind, beggars belief. However, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, has vowed to end such practices. But with around 250 councils using 'Service Care' and other similar companies, it looks like he has his work cut out in reforming employment practices in many so-called labour councils.