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Government urged to protect the one million builders in bogus self-employment

THE government was urged yesterday to extend its wage support scheme to protect the one million construction workers trapped in “bogus self-employment.”

Unite called for immediate help to support workers paid via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

Just over one million construction workers are paid via CIS, the vast majority of whom are bogusly self-employed and paid on a weekly basis, said the union. 

Unlike all other forms of self-employment, under the CIS workers are taxed at source and are then entitled to make a claim for self-employed expenses.

The major beneficiaries are employers, who do not have to pay their employees’ National Insurance contributions of 13.8 per cent, according to Unite.

With construction sites in Britain already reducing the number of workers employed as a result of the pandemic, and further closures expected, the union called for urgent action  to protect workers it claims are denied basic employment rights.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Bricklayers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers will be deeply worried that if they are officially self-employed they will not be protected by the government’s scheme.

“Most construction workers are the primary breadwinners in their family and swift action is needed to ensure that they are protected throughout the coronavirus crisis.

“Over half of the industry is officially self-employed, with most of those bogusly self-employed. 

“This is part of the hire and fire culture existing in construction which results in workers being dumped without warning or compensation during downturns.”


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