In what seems like the distant past, HMRC delayed putting IR35 legislation into effect until April 2021. But that was before the life-changing impact of Covid-19 on loved ones, livelihoods and society as a whole. The Government has an unprecedented amount of pressure on them to assist the whole country at this time and looking at whether IR35 legislation should come into effect in April 2021 is probably not high on their agenda.
I am not for one-minute forgetting everyone in professions which require them to be onsite, travel to a destination, deliver a food parcel, the key workers and NHS staff who continue to put themselves unselfishly at risk. People are dying, the observations I am trying to draw can never outweigh not wanting this to be a reality.
It does make you think though. What we are seeing is the resilience of individuals, teams and businesses showing how they are coping with physical separation, self-isolation, physical distancing and the Government’s ‘Stay home’ guidance, as a new temporary norm in how we interact.
There are countless examples being shared on a daily basis in finding ways to work, function and provide services which are out of the ordinary and which don’t necessarily benefit from trudging into an office five days a week. Home offices in a cupboard, restaurant suppliers doing home delivery, businesses collaborating when usually competing. It’s challenging to say the least and challenging the way we perceive things to work or can work.
On the human side there are stories both positive and distressing, mundane and full of humour, exercise classes and singalongs being shared daily on social media which are helping us to interact, feel connected and not alone. Social technology mediums are being used to provide this connection positively. Maybe it’s also teaching us things like getting to know your partner again (or not), spending more time with the kids, becoming aware of what is important in life and whether consciously or sub-consciously translating this to the way we look at work-life balance.
This new way of trying to work and interact is an extremely difficult concept for many to grasp, whether as an individual or business, when traditional offline businesses conduct with a physical presence that is now challenged. It is unknown how long this will take to be over and, on the assumption, that most don’t like unknowns, will there be a significant impact in how we think about working, or what will be available when businesses kick-start again and welcome back their ‘furloughed’ employees.
What is this tenuous link to IR35? Well, and this is just an observation – if businesses decide to be more flexible in how they resource; decide whether a physical presence is needed; that work doesn’t necessarily have to be 9-5; and is based upon results-delivery rather than time at a desk; or that people may not necessarily ‘chase the money’ as they have reassessed what’s important, would we be left in a situation where interim, part-time, ad-hoc delivery focussed requirements are more attractive to both parties rather than traditional permanent roles? Would this actually drive up the desire and or need for independent working and new PSC Ltd company businesses, rather than the implications of bringing those individuals into the fold under IR35?
The Government will undoubtedly need all the tax it can get, but could IR35 be the wrong target? Maybe concentrating on how operational resilience can be applied and strengthened across industries to better survive would put us in better stead. To bolster industries resilience both operationally and financially for, and hopefully not, should a similar impact on our lives occur again, might help to alleviate the almost total reliance on the UK Government to bail-out industries so they can focus and concentrate on those that most require their support.
Rather than a looming feeling of IR35 and April 2021, wouldn’t it be great if individuals and businesses were able to focus on their continuity, building themselves back up and trying to stay afloat for the foreseeable future and innovate and collaborate for the betterment of the many not the few. Should HMRC already be considering a further delay to IR35? Are we thinking differently about how we will work?