Knowledge is Power

Ship Shape Partnering with JobsAware to Protect Contractor Rights

In August 2022, SAFERjobs brand JobsAware announced a working pilot with the umbrella sector to enable contractors working under umbrella firms to report abuses they suffer as part of their work. 

In this article, we find out more about the JobsAware initiative and how it is joining the crusade for a fair and compliant umbrella sector.

Driving out non-compliance

JobsAware is a brand of SAFERjobs, a non-profit organisation which has helped over 2 million people have a safer job search and stay safe while in work. JobsAware was launched in 2021 as the UK’s number one platform to protect worker rights.

Earlier this year, JobsAware announced that it would be partnering with payment intermediaries and umbrella companies to help educate and protect contractors and umbrella workers. 

Principles of good practice

The JobsAware scheme provides a list of five elements of good practice for all umbrella companies and payment intermediaries who are partnering with them. Proactively protecting worker rights, as well as liaising with the JobsAware intelligence network and UK government regarding issues within the sector are just two of the standards that are expected to be met. Others include promoting JobsAware to their contractors (who are entitled to free help and advice) and reporting mistreatment against themselves. With the umbrella industry currently unregulated, compliant umbrella firms and payment intermediaries welcome any opportunity to help combat labour market abuse.

Free advice and support for umbrella contractors

As part of the scheme, umbrella workers can access free help and advice from JobsAware, as well as report instances where they have been mistreated or subject to fraud. And with 400,000 contractors and freelancers in the umbrella sector alone, improving standards is crucial. Because while many umbrella companies and payroll providers deliver an impeccable and completely compliant service; the industry being unregulated is leaving many people vulnerable to exploitation. And with many umbrella workers in crucial roles in labour strapped areas such as healthcare and construction, we must all act to ensure a fair and compliant industry.

Contribution to change

The reports made will also be fed back to the UK government, who have long promised changes to the Employment Bill and the creation of a Single Enforcement Body which would be designed to prevent non-compliance in the sector. In the meantime, the volume and nature of reports made to JobsAware will demonstrate the need for swift changes in enforcement and regulation of the flexible labour market.

Recent JobsAware Update

Having now been running the pilot scheme for over three months, JobsAware recently stated that an agency a day and up to two umbrella companies a week are being reported to the initiative for violating workers rights. Sadly, unlawful holiday pay and benefits packages, and unfair working practices and job scams, such as tax avoidance schemes, are all too common in non-compliant umbrella firms. But the reports also include issues such as scam or fake job adverts, pay for job scams (such as requesting that contractors pay for DBS checks or training), non-payment or underpayment of wages, unexpected changes to contracts, illegal working, modern slavery, or abuse. 

Only work with compliant umbrellas and payroll providers

To help protect contractors, and improve standards in the industry, agencies should only work with compliant umbrella firms and payroll providers. You can spot them by checking that they are accredited to FCSA and JobsAware, both logos will be listed on their website.

Contractors can see that they are working with a JobsAware provider, if the JobsAware logo also appears on their pay slip.

Ship Shape is proud to be a JobsAware provider, and we work with a visibly compliant supply chain to help protect our valued clients and contractors. If you would like more information about the JobsAware initiative, or you would like to find out more about working with us, don’t hesitate to get in touch. 
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