REC counters latest trade union attack on construction agencies
The REC has today countered the latest attack on the industry by UCATT, the trade union representing construction workers.
UCATT were responding to HMRC’s recent announcement on increased enforcement activity which the REC has welcomed. The Trade Union’s line is that that employment agencies have been deliberately denying workers employment rights and are increasingly forcing workers to be falsely self-employed in order to avoid paying national insurance contributions and other benefits.
Tom Hadley, the REC’s Director of Policy and Professional Services, says:
“Yesterday's announcement by HMRC did not focus on employment status issues so we are slightly bemused to see UCATT making this a key theme in its response. For an organisation that is there to represent workers, it seems strangely detached from the reality of how many workers in the sector choose to operate. The idea that agencies are routinely coercing workers into declaring themselves self-employed is wide of the mark.
“The nature of work in the construction sector means that permanent full time employment models are never likely to be the norm. Where there is a flexible workforce, law abiding agencies have a crucial role to play in ensuring that workers are looked after and that regulations are properly applied. Having the support of an agency is in most cases preferable to working directly with end users as an individual limited company.
"We believe that UCATT can play an important role in actively promoting the positive contribution that compliant agencies can make. We are keen to discuss this further and have already asked UCATT official to meet and discuss wider issues of the construction industry.”
Responding to previous UCATT attacks on employment status issues, Simon Noakes, Chair of the REC Construction group said:
“Recruitment agencies specialising in construction within the REC work hard to raise standards and to provide a first class service to employers and contractors. We fully support the effective enforcement of existing regulations.
“Companies need to know that competent, self employed professionals are out there to meet short term increases in demand, while at the same time controlling fixed costs. The added value provided by specialist recruitment agencies gives construction companies at all sizes the confidence to tender for and the ability to deliver large scale projects."