Following news that the Government has launched an eleventh-hour review of changes to off-payroll working rules in a move ‘to address any concerns from businesses and affected individuals about how they will be implemented’, APSCo has warned of the further confusion this could create.  

On the announcement, Tania Bowers, Legal Counsel at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), commented: 

“While we are not altogether surprised by this announcement, we are disappointed that there is no intention of delaying incoming changes. APSCo has called for implementation to at least be delayed pending a further impact review and completion of an assessment on employment status. There is a clear need for a proper review, with adequate time to publish the outcome and recommendations of the review, and then roll out changes with certainty on final legislation. This timeline just doesn’t work.

“We, of course, support HMRC’s intention to ‘ensure smooth implementation of the reforms’. We also welcome further internal analysis of the CEST tool. However, the reality is that this review – at this time – is likely to create even more confusion.

“Essentially, with just weeks to go until the changes are implemented, we are now at a point where we don’t have any certainty around final legislation or any firm guidance from HMRC. New rules apply from March for firms running monthly payrolls – this eleventh-hour review is simply too late.

“A survey of APSCo’s membership, undertaken in December 2019, revealed that although more than three quarters (79%) of the professional recruitment firms polled believed that most of the businesses they work with were aware of the incoming changes, just 51% said the majority of their clients were actively preparing for the updated legislation. With this in mind, we fear that this move will encourage some employers, recruiters and contractors to further postpone preparations due to ongoing uncertainly until mid-February when the review concludes – and by then the deadline will be imminent.

“There is certainly a feeling among some that this review is just a formality, with the Government obliged to follow through with a commitment that The Chancellor made publically last year during the run-up to the General Election. Regardless of the catalyst for this announcement, we at APSCo are always open to engaging with the Government to ensure the voices of our members are heard by policy makers and we expect to meet with HMRC as part of this review.”

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