The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has released its new manifesto, which details five key policy recommendations for the economy in the post-Brexit (and post-election) era.
Commenting at the launch, APSCo’s Director of Operations, Samantha Hurley, drew attention to the fact that since the term “gig economy” entered the lexicon, the media has concentrated its attention almost exclusively on lower-skilled and lower-paid workers. APSCo, by contrast, aims to make sure that the Government recognises a distinctive group within the gig economy: professional independent flexible talent.
Ms Hurley emphasised that these highly skilled contracting professionals, who work on a project-by-project basis via Umbrella Companies or their own limited companies, have a crucial role to play in the British economy’s future success.
Noting the continued tightening of the labour market, Ms Hurley underlined the need for access to professional talent, as it remains pivotal for growth and competitive advantage. She continued: “We, along with many policymakers and academics, see clearly that a complete review of employment status is urgently needed to ensure continued success in a post-Brexit economy. Political policy needs to recognise the changes taking place in the labour market, and we will continue to engage with all political parties to call for future policy that is fit for purpose.”
The manifesto’s five core areas are:
- A revised tax and regulatory framework – This is needed in order to distinguish clearly between highly skilled, highly remunerated contracting professionals and lower-paid, more vulnerable workers. A new framework would place skilled professional talent outside regulations aimed at protecting vulnerable workers. It would also allow the Government to look after lower-paid workers without limiting the ability of contracting professionals to deliver their services as flexibly as possible. APSCo is calling for a new status for these flexible professionals, which would recognise their right to decline statutory protections such as the Agency Workers Regulations.
- Targeted Government-industry engagement – APSCo recommends the appointment of a junior minister within the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with a specific focus on flexible working and engagement.
- Recognition of the specificity of the professional recruitment sector – Professional recruiters working with service-providing contracting professionals can clarify that this is not a typical “worker” relationship, a distinction that will help the Government differentiate these skilled workers from those who are potentially vulnerable.
- A reform of the Apprenticeship Levy – This would ensure that the money raised can be transferred to recruiters’ clients or accessed by contracting professionals, allowing these vital contributors to the British economy to benefit from it.
- Attracting and allowing access to much-needed skilled specialist migrants post-Brexit by means of expedited visa processes.