As David Cameron hands the keys to No. 10 Downing Street to his successor, Theresa May, the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has set out its proposals for working with the post-Brexit Government on behalf of its members.
APSCo’s Operations Director, Samantha Hurley, said that it is crucial for the Government to consult with representative bodies in professional recruitment as EU-derived statutes are replaced by, or reshaped into, British law.
Future trade agreements should be drawn up in consultation with the private sector, she said, in order to avoid an unfair market where UK service providers are unable to fully access the EU market, yet EU companies could access the UK market.
APSCo members believe that retaining access to the single market would be “advantageous,” Ms Hurley continued, along with which would come free movement of labour – a policy that is predominantly beneficial to the professional sector.
Should free movement be restricted, Ms Hurley added, APSCo would work with the Government to protect the international mobility of the highly skilled and highly paid professionals that large UK companies, without exception, rely on.
Highly skilled Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals will be aware that well-intentioned EU legislation, such as the Temporary Agency Workers Directive, assumes that all agency workers are low-paid contingent labour in precarious employment, a one-size-fits-all approach that disregards the very different status of professional contractors. This is amongst the EU rules on the priority list of APSCo members for reform or, preferably, removal.
Ms Hurley concedes that outright abolition of the directive is unlikely, because the Government has “gold-plated” so much of it that the rights enshrined within it have been integrated into the fabric of UK employment and social law. APSCo would not, however, endorse small, relatively insignificant changes, because these result in more disruption than leaving the directive unaltered.
She added: “The current landscape offers an opportunity for us to encourage a new regulatory framework that differentiates skilled professionals by positioning them outside of ‘one size fits all’ regulation aimed at protecting unskilled workers. It is the responsibility of the professional recruitment sector to guard against the unions lobbying for such rigid measures to protect the potentially vulnerable that we end up stifling the professional sector as well – which is what has happened in the UK in the past.”
There is today a wider understanding of how the UK economy benefits from the professional recruitment sector, Ms Hurley went on, adding “and so we need to ensure that legislation not only protects the potentially vulnerable but also allows the professional sector to thrive.”