FairScore rates umbrellas and highlights ethical companies

Website OffPayroll.org.uk has launched FairScore to see which umbrellas go above and beyond the legal minimums for employment and tax.

FairScore is an umbrella rating system that its founder says is designed to help employees, recruiters, agencies and clients clearly see those ethical and well-run umbrellas.

Organisers said the system has been put in place as “a stop gap” until regulation governing umbrella companies’ actions and practices is passed, moving the market away from lawful minimums on employment rights and tax obligations.

“In effect, FairScore will highlight the ethical well-run umbrellas and those that are rogue, creating a level playing field until regulation is passed,” a statement from OffPayroll.org.uk said.

Umbrellas will receive a score out of 100, the statement said. The greater the score the more compliant, ethical and fair the umbrella has been found. Every umbrella must pass certain criteria to get a FairScore such as matters related to jurisdiction and director disqualifications.

Since its launch a week ago [18 October 2021] on Monday, eight umbrellas have proactively asked to go through the FairScore process, organisers said.

This week’s Spending Review is crucial for regulation of the umbrella sector and the establishment of a Single Enforcement Body, announced in June, organisers said. James Poyser, founder of off-payroll and CEO of inniAccounts, and tax expert Rebecca Seeley Harris contacted Paul Scully MP and Lucy Frazer QC in September to urge the government to ensure the Spending Review provides the funding needed to establish the SEB.

Recruiters, agencies and end clients are encouraged to use the rating system to inform the choices they make about labour supply chain partners too, organisers said.

Working with the team at offpayroll.org.uk umbrellas will complete a detailed assessment covering five distinct areas of business.

This includes background checks on company structure including offshore jurisdictions and director disqualifications, compliance with specific tax and employment law, fairness of working practices, including the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements, the fairness of commercial arrangements across the labour supply chain, including the use of kickbacks, and their commitment to conduct fair audits.

Some questions are mandatory, and if an umbrella fails to pass them then they will fail to get a FairScore rating. Criteria related to some of the more operational elements of running an umbrella are optional, but the more information the umbrella provides and passes then the greater the resulting ‘FairScore’, organisers said.

The information will be fact checked by the offpayroll.org.uk team, through inniAccounts, the accountancy firm, and scored out of 100. “The greater the number, the more ethical and fair the business is considered to be. This score will be benchmarked against other umbrellas to create a virtual league table of the good, the bad and the ugly,” the statement said.

Because producing a FairScore assessment takes considerable time, organisers said, priority will be given to the umbrellas who proactively come forward to be rated. In addition, those which receive the most votes from the offpayroll.org.uk community will be added to the priority list. 

Editor’s note: To see the FairScore assessment template, click on any of the umbrellas at this page; these will be populated as umbrellas come forward to get a ‘FairScore’.

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