Off-payroll working in the public sector – Consultation

This consultation is titled “Off-payroll working in the public sector: reform of the intermediaries legislation”.

HMRC believe that a change in liability is necessary because at present, the liability lies with the PSC and that there is widespread non-compliance. They quote figures of this costing the Exchequer £440 million this tax year. How they arrived at this figure is not entirely clear on first reading of the consultation but of course, it is understandable why government would be keen to clampdown on perceived tax avoidance, particularly in light of the Panama scandal.


This change would be highly problematic if it was decided that the liability should fall upon the agency / interim provider.  As has been discussed in previous consultation rounds, the agencies does not have oversight of the nature of the work being performed by the candidate when they are on assignment, and therefore agencies are in the worst possible position to assess whether the intermediary rules apply.  The REC will be making strong representations to HMRC on this point.

1.       Changing the liability – so that it becomes the duty of the hirer or the employment intermediary (eg the interim provider, employment business or management consultancy) to apply the intermediaries rules for anyone working off-payroll, through a Personal Service Company (PSC), in the public sector.


2.       HMRC will develop a new online tool to help decide if the intermediaries rules apply.

Assessing whether someone is in or out of scope of IR35 on any given assignment has always been problematic. One of the issues is getting absolute clarity on the nature of the assignment and clear guidance from HMRC.  The nuances of how someone chooses to work and the type of work that is required do not often translate well into the short, simplistic case studies favoured by HRMC in its guidance.

HMRC have listened and recognise why Supervision, Direction or Control would NOT be the appropriate test for deciding if IR35 applies.

This consultation raises a number of concerns about how government views the vital contribution of interim managers and contractors make to the public sector, and we have already raised these concerns directly in a joint letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer with other stakeholders.

Whilst we believe it is right that this government is committed to tackling tax avoidance, we think that this consultation raises a series of important issues that must be considered:

1.       It has the potential to blur the boundaries between employment rights and taxation status and could usher in a host of unnecessary reforms, which fail to take into account why individuals choose to work on an interim, freelance or contract basis. If it becomes a straight choice between taking an assignment in the public or private sector, we believe many will choose the latter.

2.       Aligned with the first point, the public sector needs to consider if they can afford to take on the costs associated with making these individuals “employees” in all but name. Most pressing of all on the public purse would be pension contributions.

3.       Previous iterations of “tests” to determine IR35 status have not worked and it is unclear what will be different this time around. Government must fully involve stakeholders in developing these tests and allow adequate time for the pilot and roll out.

4.       Finally, HMRC has a duty to enforce existing legislation adequately.  Simply shifting liability onto the employment intermediary will not abdicate HMRC from its responsibilities. More pertinently, it is impossible for a recruitment business to make an informed decision about the IR35 status of an engagement.

Pokemon Go – Should employers clamp down

Written by Marianne Calnan 0f People Management magazine

Popular game prompts questions over use of personal devices, as Boeing becomes first business to ban it at work.

The take-up of smartphone game Pokemon Go has been so remarkable – and the experience of playing it so immersive – that employers may need to revisit their policies to prevent a productivity glut, according to experts.

Though it has been available in the UK for just five days, the app – in which players use GPS to roam inside and outside and ‘catch’ characters – has been wildly popular, with hoards of players sighted in towns and cities across the country.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing was forced to issue an email to its workforce banning play during working hours after the company discovered the game app had been installed on more than 100 work phones since its release. A member of staff also came close to injury while playing the game at work.

Andrew Rayment, a partner in the employment team at law firm Walker Morris, said that although Pokemon Go was just “another workplace distraction”, it had the potential to affect individuals’ ability to carry out their jobs effectively.

The game is difficult to manage as it is so readily available, Rayment added: “The game is largely played on employees’ personal phones, and, if it’s only being used outside working hours, that isn’t an issue. But if it is used in the workplace or so much out of the workplace that it’s negatively affecting work, employers need to reiterate their exceptional use policy on the use of personal devices in the workplace so all employees know where the company stands, and trust employees to follow it.”

Rayment said employers should adopt a cautious balance between giving their workforce free reign to fill their time as they see fit, and failing to trust them at all. “When agile working comes into the mix, it’s not really fair for employers to not allow employees to play Pokemon Go at their desk for five minutes, but then also expect them to answer emails at 10pm.”

There are potential upsides to the new craze. Pokemon Go players are walking miles at a time as they search out characters, and reporting positive effects on their health. Reports from the US suggest autistic children benefit from the interaction and socialisation encouraged by the game.

However, Tom Currie, a barista and bartender from New Zealand, showed the potential for the game to reach extremes when he became the first person to quit his job in favour of a full-time bid to ‘catch ‘em all’. The BBC reported that Currie had already caught 91 of the 151 Pokemon available in the game.

Some employers are taking a more light-hearted approach to prohibition. An image that went viral on Twitter this week showed an internal memo at an unnamed company, which read: “We are paying you to work, not chase fictional videogame characters with your cell phone all day. Save it for your break time, otherwise you’ll have plenty of time unemployed to catch ‘em all.”

Written by Marianne Calnan 0f People Management magazine

The Exit Interview

The Exit Interview
Once an employee has decided they are leaving it is best practice to arrange an exit interview. An exit Interview will offer a fleeting opportunity to find out information that otherwise might be more difficult or impossible to obtain.

The following are some thoughts on the exit interview: Interviews can be conducted orally or written. Exit interview questions are essential to a successful separation. Here are some tips on how to construct these questions.

  1. Save the hardest questions for the latter part of the interview. Work up to the tough stuff!

  2. A good question to break the ice is ‘would you like for us to be a reference or recommendation for you’? Do not make this offer if you would not recommend the employee!

  3. Be prepared for some bombshells. Expect the unexpected, if it ever is to happen it will happen in an exit interview.

  4. Look for open-ended questions that allow for plenty of expression. An example of this might be “how did you feel you were managed during your employment with us?” or “how do you feel the company is run?”

  5. Other excellent questions are ‘under what conditions would you have stayed?’ and ‘if you had had a magic wand, what would you have changed?’

  6. At some point in the interview ask ‘why are you leaving?’ if you do not already know.

  7. Good general questions are ‘what did you like most (least) about your position?’

  8. Try to find out if there were things the departing employee would suggest to improve conditions, production or morale.

  9. Try to get a good feel for how they viewed their compensation and benefits package.

  10. Leave room at the end of the interview for general comments. one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments.

Here are some examples of Exit Interview Questions.

  1. Before deciding to leave, did you explore the possibility of a transfer?

  2. Is there something you didn’t like about your boss?

  3. How would you rate our work environment?

  4. Were you happy with your salary and benefits?

  5. What did you think about your performance and salary reviews?

  6. How should we change the way we do things to avoid losing other good employees?


What do you do when an influential leader quits?

I quit       DCandBJ

Many of us have experienced that gut-wrenching moment when a senior leader i.e. that someone who is responsible for employee relationships drops the envelope on your desk announcing their resignation. Even if that leader’s departure is expected, it can still send shock-waves through the organisation.

It can have a huge impact on your team so what do you do?  We might communicate to clients, but fall flat when it comes to reassuring our employees. Reasons for this can vary; it may be that as a team we feel vulnerable and don’t like to show it, or perhaps we simply don’t know what to say.  As managers we will probably feel worried about what our employees are feeling and thinking when a major personnel change threatens stability.

So, what is the best way to react when a senior leader heads for the exit?— here are five tactics to focus your people and yourself :

Stay calm — During the meeting when your senior person resigns, ask them to keep the news confidential until you develop a communication plan (for employees and clients).

Assess the situation — Book an immediate meeting with your senior managers to identify main areas;  a beloved leader whose absence might cause major employee disengagement? Did they possess some sort of irreplaceable organizational knowledge or skills?  If so, how will you fill those gaps?

Collaborate — Depending on the size of your team and its structure, work with your senior people to develop a plan to communicate the news to your indirect reports. Internally talk about the relationships; you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how readily your team steps up to assume new responsibilities. 

Communicate — Work out the best medium to announce the news based on the departed leader’s seniority, tenure and roles. Whatever you decide, remember to include all team members in the announcement.  Assure employees that the company is on solid footing and the departure has nothing to do with instability. Just as critical, remind clients that it’s business as usual. Explain how their account will be managed in light of the resignation, as well as your strategy for replacing that lost expertise.

Follow through — Execute your transition plan to the letter and keep key team members updated on its progress. Expect this process to play out over a couple of months and don’t underestimate the potential cultural impact. If the departed leader was well-liked and seen as a key to your organization’s success, employees will need consistent reassurances that their jobs are safe and your bottom line will remain stable.

Ultimately when an influential leader resigns no matter how well you handle the situation you will find that some employees will decide to move on.

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