Unite, the country’s biggest union for construction workers, has called for umbrella companies to be outlawed after a BBC report exposed how construction workers are falling victim to wage theft.
The union made its demand after BBC Look North carried an expose on how workers operating via umbrella companies in construction and other sectors are having huge deductions taken from their pay.
Umbrella company workers have to pay employers’ and employees’ national insurance contributions as well as income tax, a tax rate of 45.8 pence in the pound on eligible earnings. Workers often have their holiday pay rolled into the rate, meaning they are unpaid when taking leave. If they pay into an auto-enrolment pension they have to pay both employee and employer contributions. Umbrella company workers have to pay a fee of around £20 a week to be paid in this manner.
Unite have recently established a bogus self-employment unit to step up their support of members who are being denied basic employment rights. The unit is also targeting umbrella companies.
Acting general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “Umbrella companies are highly immoral and rip off workers. The government need to end the misery of umbrella company workers by outlawing this practice and all forms of bogus self-employment.”
The government has previously estimated that 430,000 workers are paid via umbrella companies.