• Articles
  • February 17, 2021
  • Gareth Morris

Is IR35 the new GDPR?


I was chatting with someone recently and we were commenting on the number of IR35 experts suddenly popping up, and it made me think of the same sort of phenomenon commented on during the build up to GDPR enforcement. Every new legislation (or significant change) comes with the same sort of ripples.

Here’s my thoughts on the top three common correlations on all new legislation:

1. Overnight experts 

I’ve worked in compliance for more years than I care to admit, I’m a qualified auditor, project manager, safety professional and GDPR ‘expert’ (not really – everyone knows that last one doesn’t exist!) I’ve worked in this sector for a long time and have amassed a range of experience that I use to support the organisation I work for make prudent decisions with regard to risk, from lots of different legislation and regulations.

When new legislation or changed legislation comes in, it makes sense that we build on our offering for clients and contractors to support them in the same way. This is especially true for service businesses like a recruitment company – if the recruitment business you work with isn’t in a position to support you through this, do they add value? How can you be confident they’re complying? What else don’t they have the depth of knowledge on?

I can tell at 10 paces someone who knows a piece of legislation in enough depth to advise others on it. There are plenty out there who’ve learnt a few key lines but don’t have the experience to be offering help. Clients should dig deep to ensure they’re not working with an overnight expert.

2. The end is nigh

Another common theme when thinking about new or changed legislation is a tendency to be negative. There are some valid concerns with any major legislation, but unfortunately, neither HMG nor the EU are adept at drafting legislation in a practical, thoughtful way. Some is downright foolish, others impractical – but every piece of legislation (including Off Payroll Reform) is navigable.

Like GDPR, you will often find people on both sides of the spectrum – “ignore it, it’s a fuss about nothing” or “it’s the end, everyone will go bust”. The truth, in my experience, is always somewhere in between. If you engage the right people, give yourself time and resource to prepare, be honest about the consequences and the business priorities, and make sensible decisions about risk, you will be okay. If you put your head in the sand or make drastic knee jerk decisions, you might find you’ve made your own prediction a reality.

3. The silver bullet

This is always the most frustrating part of changes for me. I recall someone saying to me about Brexit, “if you can’t sum up the argument for staying or leaving in one sentence, I won’t understand it.” I can’t, and no one adequately can, as it’s a complex and nuanced issue.

If there were, that would be what the Government mandates (one would hope!) but instead, you have to have a reasonable, measured approach that’s relevant to your business and its unique risks, priorities and opportunities.

You can have a standard approach to that, but it must take into account the varying needs. So, beware anyone offering a ‘tool’ that alone will make you compliant with legislation, that takes no account of your business needs. A tool should only be used as part of a process which looks at your business needs.

In my experience there is a trajectory for new legislation – those tasked with being part of the implementation often travel through denial or ignorance to horror, panic, pragmatism, acceptance, and then finally, it becomes routine. This will be no different; the new way will become the new normal eventually. The question is, how much impact will it have on your business whilst you make the adjustment? The businesses that reach pragmatism earlier will hold a competitive advantage.


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If you want to find out more about IR35, be sure to visit our IR35 Solutions Centre. Alternatively, if you would like to have a discussion in regards to IR35 and how Evolution Recruitment Solutions can help your business, please contact me.

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