Bectu raises 'serious concerns' about HMRC update on fixed-term freelancers

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Bectu

Bectu, the union for the creative and media industries, has raised “serious concerns” with the Treasury about changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that now state fixed-term contract PAYE freelancers cannot be re-engaged and furloughed once their contracts have naturally come to an end.

The update was issued on Friday and is at odds with previous information from HMRC. Fixed term contract PAYE freelancers cannot be re-engaged and furloughed once their contract has naturally come to an end - even if they were on a contract during the relevant dates of the scheme.

Bectu’s parent union, Prospect, has also written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging for the guidance to be changed.

“The Treasury must engage with us to understand the implications of this latest update and to take on board the solutions that we’ve proposed,” said Bectu head Philippa Childs.

Guidance updated on April 4th had stated that employers could agree to re-employ someone, extend a contract and place them on furlough even if they had stopped working for them.

Directors UK chair Steve Smith, whose member base is almost exclusively freelance, described the situation as a “f***ing mess” on Twitter over the weekend.

“This crisis highlights the utter mess freelancers navigate when it comes to taxation,” he wrote. “Many are treated as freelance for employment status but PAYE for tax status yet get no security or employment benefits.”

Bectu represents more than 40,000 staff, contract and freelance workers in the media and entertainment industries.