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Whitehall working group on employment status ‘offers little hope of badly needed reform’

A Whitehall working group on employment status offers “little hope of badly needed reform”, employment intermediary trade body PRISM has warned.


A cross-government committee has been set up to look at employment status but its membership is made up of those departments who have already failed to bring employment rules up to date, says PRISM.


It comes after the trade association revealed plans to ask the Social Market Foundation (SMF) to carry out a strategic review of employment practices and legislation totally independent from the industry and government.


Crawford Temple, chief executive of PRISM, said the Whitehall working group represented the same departments responsible for the “endless sticking plaster approach” that has brought constant changes down on the employment intermediaries sector.


Temple said, "The group is chaired by the head of employment status at HMRC. So what's new?


"I am not convinced that if you have the same people looking at the same problems it is going to deliver any new outcomes so it offers little hope of badly needed reform. We are just going to end up with the same answers we have always had.”


PRISM has campaigned against changes to travel and subsistence relief for Britain's 1.6m contractors and believes employment legislation - which still only categorises workers as either ‘employed’ or ‘self-employed’ - has failed to keep pace with the way modern workers are engaged.


PRISM also campaigned for the Government to carry out a strategic review of employment legislation in the hope it would result in a fair and more stable set of rules that protected the flexible workers market. This was backed by 55 Parliamentarians and resulted in the SNP tabling the review as an amendment to the Finance Bill. The Government has so far declined to commission one.


Last week PRISM unveiled plans to launch its own strategic review sponsored by companies within the industry. The white paper would be created by the SMF but would be totally independent.


Temple added, “We have all witnessed the endless sticking plaster approach to legislation.


“The problem is it is a lot easier to maintain the status quo and insist everyone is either employed or self-employed than to understand and adapt to the modern engagement structures required by businesses. This conception of the workers' market is now so out of date it's unreal.


"This is why PRISM is taking the lead and organising an independent strategic review sponsored by industry to be undertaken by the SMF which is a leading and respected think tank.


“This review is vital and long overdue because we must all first understand what modern businesses want, as it is them who drive engagement. Only then can we consider what is required in the way of rules and structures. We need an independent, fresh, new and credible pair of eyes on this."


PRISM is inviting industry sponsors to support the SMF review. For more information go to

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