Umbrella Company Employees and other independent professionals in the UK’s contracting community might not have felt quite ready to break open the champagne after the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday; however, the PCG’s director of policy and public affairs, Simon McVicker, thinks it provided plenty of good reasons to be cheerful, to quote the old Ian Drury song.
Flexible working and small businesses featured prominently, Mr McVicker notes, indicating the growing importance of this expanding sector to the UK’s economic recovery. While he welcomed early efforts to tackle late payments, which have an especially adverse effect on small businesses and the self-employed, Mr McVicker echoed sentiments recently expressed by the Association of Recruitment Consultancies and the REC that these measures do not go far enough.
Mr McVicker said: “In order for it to be effective, the Prompt Payment Code must be compulsory for large companies and it must include sanctions for the worst offenders. A ‘comply or explain’ system for payment terms is a start, but in order to stamp out the issue once and for all, more decisive action needs to be taken.”
Mr McVicker welcomed measures contained in the Queen’s Speech to help smaller businesses to obtain contracts with public sector organisations. He said that making it easier for self-employed independent professionals to tender for contracts “is an important step towards creating a level playing field for all businesses looking to engage with the public sector.”
He also endorsed measures to prevent abuse of the flexible labour market. Banning exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contacts, he said, would be “a sensible approach” to preventing poor practice without condemning flexible working in general.