APSCo – the Association of Professional Recruitment Companies – will advise the next government to introduce a new worker status.
The strategy, which has been set out in the association’s 2019 General Election manifesto calls on the next government to recognise the unique status of highly skilled contractors.
“There should be a new status for Independent Professionals which offers a transparent and understood route for professional workers to be able to sell their services.”
Under the proposals, employment law would differentiate between low-paid, unsecured zero-hours contractors; mid-earners who wish to work flexibly; and highly skilled professionals who provide services through PSC limited companies.
This is not the first time a new class of worker has been touted. Just over one year ago, eBoss considered a new type of skilled professional – based on demand in the tech sector.
• READ MORE: Which tech job tops the Most Wanted list for employers in 2019?
APSCo suggests benchmarks for defining each category would include salary, skill sets, and the degree of autonomy in the work.
APSCo suggests £58,200 per annum – or £220 per day – to match rules for the public sector that were introduced in 2012. It also provides £81,000 as an alternative benchmark – the threshold for UK VAT registration.
So we really need a new worker status?
One central theme dominates the agenda of the 2019 manifesto. That is: the need to access skills in the present, coupled with the need to develop skills for the future. Introducing a new worker status may address some of the lingering doubts in that respect. Why? Because there is genuine concern that highly skilled individuals view the current UK employment market as noncompetitive. A new worker status could promote a more mutually beneficial relationship between professionals and the jobs market.
And there are additional considerations, too. There are concerns that governments tend to favour broad brush strokes when solving the riddles of modern recruiting. But the APSCo manifesto provides a more nuanced approach; avoiding a “one size fits all” model while acknowledging some obvious challenges. Under the APSCo proposals, the UK jobs market could remain competitive while learning to live with obstacles such as IR35 changes and brexit – rather than avoiding them completely.
At the same time, there is also concern that these negative perceptions may increase in a post-brexit Britain:
“Over fifty percent of recruiters currently rely on Independent Professionals recruited from the European Union to help fill client vacancies.
Long term solutions by the next government are required to address this.”
APSCo believes that many recruitment businesses are already operating on the assumption that freedom of movement will end. A new tier of skilled professional could therefore be one way to prevent a skills gap opening up. The association says it is “vitally important” to recognise talented workers on the European mainland. It advises the next government to provide allowances and opportunities for those wishing to sell their skills in the UK.