We’re delighted to announce that our team has been lucky enough to have an exclusive interview with Chris Bryce – the new CEO at the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA). Please keep reading to discover Chris’s thoughts on his new job, the FCSA, regulating umbrella companies, and advice for contractors and freelancers.
Last month, the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) announced that Chris Bryce would be taking over as CEO. To welcome him to his new role and to introduce umbrellacompanies.org.uk, we reached out and asked Chris if he would mind sharing his thoughts on his role and the future of the temporary staffing sector and payroll industry.
We’re delighted to confirm that Chris has provided us with an exclusive insight into the FCSA, what his role will entail, challenges coming his way, and advice for contractors requiring the services of a payroll provider. Please keep reading for Chris Bryce’s thoughts – exclusively provided for the team at umbrellacompanies.org.uk and our thousands of monthly readers.
The following is a transcript between us, umbrellacompanies.org.uk, and Chris Bryce, the new CEO at the FCSA.
Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with the readers of umbrellacompanies.org.uk, and congratulations on your new role. To get things started, what are you most looking forward to during your tenure as CEO of the FCSA?
“I’m looking forward to working within the sector to raise awareness of the benefits compliant service providers bring to workers and indeed the whole supply chain. I’ll be making sure that FCSA’s assessment and accreditation processes continues to lead the field and that FCSA members strictly adhere to our Codes. It’s a core purpose of the FCSA to champion compliance across the sector, so I’ll be working with various stakeholders at all levels to ensure that the industry, which is vital to the UK’s flexible economy, acts with integrity and transparency.”
What are the biggest challenges the temporary worker supply chain faces in 2022?
“Some of the challenges will be around ensuring that workers continue to be provided with the best levels of service at a time where new regulation or new interpretations of existing regulations are introduced, potentially quite rapidly. As ever, FCSA will be updating its Codes and providing members with advice to enable them to make any required changes as swiftly as possible ensuring that they remain 100% compliant.”
It looks like the government is going to be rolling out regulations into the umbrella company sector – on the back of much campaigning from concerned stakeholders. Do you have any suggestions for the government in regards to regulating the umbrella company sector?
“The FCSA will be submitting its recommendations shortly but, in a nutshell, we’ll be suggesting a light touch in any new regulation. We believe it’s especially important that any definition of an “umbrella” isn’t so narrow or specific that it could have the effect of encouraging providers to change their business models. If this is the case, it would seriously hamper the effectiveness of any new regulation.
We’ll also be recommending a series of measures that enhance the policing and enforcement of perfectly good existing regulations, so that compliant service providers are working on a level playing field. In addition, we also want to see more resource be applied to catching and dealing with the perpetrators and promoters of various unlawful schemes, which often end up with the workers as the real victims.”
With umbrella companies in higher demand than ever before ,what would your main advice be for contractors and freelancers seeking an umbrella company at the moment?
“Do your due diligence! In reality, compliant umbrellas should all be following best practice and be compliant with both tax and employment laws. Therefore, they should be offering pretty much the same level of take-home pay. That means your choice may come down to other benefits they may offer which you think are useful, such as salary-sacrifice for pension contributions or discount purchase schemes such as Perkbox.
If you see an “umbrella” offering substantial uplifts to your take-home pay, then beware. These wild offers are more than likely to be some sort of unlawful scheme and you could end up at the wrong end of an HMRC investigation. Make sure you’re speaking with a real company with a real track record. Check with Companies House to see their registration certificates and check that any claimed accreditation is in the exact name of the company you’re dealing with. FCSA publishes details of all our accredited members, with these details available on our website.”
We have previously written a blog that explains to our readers why FCSA accreditation is so important to those who have obtained it (available here). Why do you believe FCSA accreditation is so important to its members (accountancy, CIS, and umbrella)?
“I believe that FCSA’s high standards are second to none and we go to great lengths to keep them current and ensure member compliance. FCSA’s accreditation process is rigorous and ongoing and includes annual due diligence checks on the individual directors of all members, corporate checks via a third-party agency and recurring periodic assessment against our published Codes, which can be found on our website. These assessments are carried out on FCSA’s behalf by a panel of nationally (and sometimes internationally) recognised professional service firms specialising in both employment law and taxation. Members are also tested by random “mystery shopping”.”
A huge thank you to Chris Bryce for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you have found this interview interesting. If you would like to share your thoughts, please do so by commenting below. Keep visiting the umbrellacompanies.org.uk for the latest news about umbrella companies and the temporary staffing sector.
Top 10 umbrella companies
If you’re looking for an umbrella company you can trust, you’ve come to the right place. We have collated a list of our top 10 umbrella companies, and they’re all accredited by either the FCSA or Professional Passport – meaning they value compliance. Please check them out now.