Sophie James -

FCSA appoints independent panel to bolster dispute resolution protocols for umbrella firms

In a statement to Computer Weekly, the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association says the panel will provide umbrella companies with a route to appeal against the decisions made by its CEO

The Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) has created a four-strong panel of independent experts to resolve disputes involving the umbrella companies that it counts as members.

The organisation offers accreditation to umbrella companies that want to demonstrate to the contractor community their commitment to operating in a compliant way.

The Association’s Independent Arbitration Panel (IAP) comprises individuals who were chosen because they represent the four key stakeholder groups that make up the contingent labour market, including agencies, accountants, employment lawyers and contractors, said the FCSA.

Its members are Neil Carberry, CEO of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC); James Collings, former chair of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE); Carl Reader, chair of accountancy firm d&t Accountants; and employment lawyer Rebecca Seeley Harris.

In a statement to Computer Weekly, the FCSA said adding the IAP to the organisation’s dispute resolution processes means there is now an appeals process in place should umbrella firms have reasonable grounds to contest any decisions made by its CEO, Chris Bryce, on behalf of the board.

“Prior to the formation of the IAP, decisions were made by the chief executive on behalf of the board, and that remains the process, with an additional appeals route to the IAP where there are reasonable grounds for appeal,” said Bryce in the statement.

“The FCSA believes this step will reassure those who bring matters to us for consideration that decisions are properly considered in an open and independent fashion.”

Typically, the types of dispute that Bryce is asked to intervene on fall into two broad categories: umbrella firms that want to appeal against having their application to join the FCSA rejected, or existing members that contest claims that they have breached the Association’s charter or codes of conduct.

“While we cannot comment on individual cases, we can say that about 99% of cases are resolved amicably without the need for a formal resolution process,” said Bryce.

“This is a very positive step which gives a clear signal of FCSA’s continuing commitment to independence and integrity. The members of FCSA’s IAP have many years of experience in our industry and their collective knowledge of issues facing the sector is second to none.”

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