Contractors, your MP backing the off-payroll amendment is only half the IR35 battle

It's very hard to know what will result from tomorrow’s tabled resolution to the Finance Bill, scheduled for midday, which seeks to delay private sector IR35 reform from April 2021 until 2023-24, writes Dr Iain Campbell, chair of the SEA and general secretary of the IHPA.

Good, but could be much better

We wish to say we are grateful to David Davis MP for proposing the amendment. But the resolution significantly neglects to propose the urgent suspension of the public sector IR35 reforms pending a full inquiry.

The government should know that public and private sector contractors have come together to oppose this injustice, and that a divide and conquer strategy of leaving public sector workers subject to this injustice in the interim will not lead to the off-payroll outcry of the private sector dying down

A slap in the face

Failing to suspend the public sector Chapter 10 reforms for the same period (2023-24) until we have the results of the government-promised independent inquiry (which was recommended by the scathing House of Lords report into this matter), is a slap in the face to front line health workers. These workers are the NHS contractors out there today putting their lives on the line for us during this COVID-19 crisis without all the protections which employees receive.

It's not just unfair. It's also downright ungrateful for the personal risk and sacrifice made by many of our colleagues -- not to mention it continues to leave outlying hospitals struggling to fill vacancies unnecessary due to the IR35 reform concerns highlighted by Lord Bridges in the main chamber House of Lords, and put to HM Treasury during select committee evidence.

We note that HMT suggested this was a matter for ministers. But Jesse Norman did not appear before the committee to address such questions due to the coronavirus lockdown. Nevertheless, it is important that this point is not lost.

The ills -- and the heroes

The very much in-force public sector off-payroll reforms should be suspended. They subtly coerce clients to visit a risk averse injustice upon workers, lead to widespread immoral false 'no rights' employment, and are both an unnecessary risk to patients and a poor way to treat those putting their lives on the line for the country.

We therefore strongly encourage contractors to email or tweet their MP asking them to support the amendment and suggest that it should also include the suspension of Chapter 10 from the public sector too, as the House of Lords report shows it is causing a litany of problems and invidious treatment of frontline workers, who this country is totally depending upon at this very precarious moment.

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Written by Iain Campbell

Dr. Iain Campbell is the former secretary general of the Independent Health Professionals Association: a trade association for independent healthcare workers which has undertaken significant litigation against blanket stances by public bodies.
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