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Advertising standards spat

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The Professional Contractors Group - the campaigning group against IR35 tax laws - has reported a recruitment agency, Computer People, to the Advertising Standards Authority for claiming it can bypass the tax legislation.

The IR35 legislation removes various tax benefits from contractors by assuming that they are employees of a firm rather than a third party. The PCG says Computer People is using confusion over IR35 to make the untrue pitch that by using an agent, rather than dealing direct with clients, they can avoid the legislation.

Not true, says the PCG. Its director, Ian Durrant, said: "The Government's legislation has created a mine-field of real confusion and chaos in the contracting sector. However, some agencies are now capitalising on this fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) to make dubious claims for their own commercial advantages. It is bad enough that our members have to contend with the real problems that this legislation has brought, without Computer People and others using this climate to try to 'scare' clients away from contracting directly."

Computer People's material points out the problems with being assumed to be an employee of a company and then states "contractors working through an Agency are not deemed to be employees". There is no evidence of this, says the PCG, even quoting a case in which the opposite was ruled to be true, in its letter to the ASA.

An ASA spokeswoman explained how the system works: "When a complaint arrives, it is logged in and then distributed to the team that works on that area. It normally takes around 10 to 12 days but can take longer, depending on how fast the advertiser gets back to us. The council will make a decision on it and then both parties will be informed." Once a month, the ASA also produces a booklet featuring all the complaints it has had and how they were resolved.

Computer People is having a meeting concerning the complaint this afternoon and was unwilling to comment when we went to press.

As an aside, the PCG may be interested to know that its term for such confusion - FUD - has very different connotations north of the border. Glaswegians in particular are unlikely to respond favourably if you refer to them as Fud-face. ®

Related Links

The PCG's letter to the ASA
The PCG

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