Should Sir Richard Branson be criticised for moving to the British Virgin Islands?

It’s been reported in the press recently that Sir Richard Branson and his wife are now living full time at their holiday island in the British Virgin Islands.

Critics have said that the move has been driven by tax savings, which Branson defends.

So what’s my take?

Well, firstly, it’s a little too late to worry about him avoiding tax: he’s already built up his massive fortune and any income that he gets goes to charity. Look at the sale of his Oxford estate to his children, which is reported to have gone for £1.35m last year. Surely if this was to avoid inheritance tax then this would have been wrapped up in trusts like the rest of his empire.

Maybe it’s just time for him to relax. Or maybe it’s just to try and live longer, after all, as Sir Richard says, “I have more money than I will ever need”, so maybe it’s eternal life that he’s after. Aren’t we all.

Read More

Thompson v Paymaster

A recent employment tribunal found that six workers paid by the now gone bust Paymaster were not in fact considered to be the umbrella company’s employees.

Clearly this immediately raises questions in relation to the treatment of workers employed through umbrella companies, but before we all get carried away, we should understand some of the facts behind the case and why the judge took that decision.

Firstly the umbrella company in question operated a “pay day by pay day” model, offering no employment in between pay days and therefore no ongoing employment rights.

This is not how compliant umbrella companies work and I can only assume it is one of the reasons that Paymaster ceased to trade.

Secondly the six workers, who were owed payment when Paymaster went into receivership, were not represented and were asking the tribunal judge to ask the secretary of state to pay the unpaid remuneration, in line with Section 182 of the Employment Rights Act. Under normal employment this would be the case, however, due to there being no control through obligation on either party, the judge ruled that they were not in fact employees.

So how can agencies ensure that their umbrellas are compliant once again? Unfortunately it comes down to understanding the umbrella’s actual model and asking for clarity. Additionally, an umbrella which is a member of a professional body such as Professional Passport would be audited to ensure that they do employ workers compliantly.

Within my companies – Atlantic Umbrella and Crystal Umbrella – we take the employment of contractors seriously. We have an in-house HR department and provide all employment rights regardless of whether the worker is on assignment or between and therefore working under mutual obligation and a truly overarching agreement.

Read More