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SIA and HMRC join forces to crack down on exploitation of security workers

by Brian Sims

Last week, from 10-12 July, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and HMRC carried out joint operations in London, Cardiff and Newcastle to identify illegal working practices and tax fraud in the private security industry. Teams attended 65 venues and spoke to over 100 security operatives to check that they were legitimately employed, that all taxes were being paid and to ensure they were not victims of any labour abuse.

During the course of the targeted operation, the SIA and HMRC teams discovered a number of security operatives who were working self-employed and some cases of cash-in-hand work. As well as encountering operatives deployed by security companies, the teams found some operatives to be working directly for a given venue.

HMRC is now undertaking enquiries in relation to some of the findings. Follow-up visits will be taking place with those businesses and venues that deploy front line operatives.

John Sandlin, senior manager at the SIA, stated: “This operation is to ensure that security staff are employed legitimately and treated fairly. By working together, our two organisations will challenge attempts to circumvent or manipulate the law. We want a level playing field for those legitimate businesses who play by the rules.”

Simon York, director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, added: “Honest employers have nothing to fear, but we’re determined to root out businesses who try to cheat the tax system and undercut those who abide by the law. These operations are part of our successful partnership with the SIA which help us identify tax abuses in the security industry. We’re determined to ensure workers are treated fairly and to create a level playing field for businesses across this sector.”

Self-employed workers are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage, sick pay and holiday pay, are not covered by other employment protection laws and are outwith the scope of the EU’s Working Time Directive. This means that they’re cheaper and are more vulnerable to exploitation.

In 2018, HMRC and the SIA signed a Memorandum of Understanding and agreed to share information about businesses and individuals working within the security sector in order to clamp down on those taking part in illegal working practices and tax fraud.

In light of the success of these recent visits, all parties will review the information and look at other potential areas to target for future joint operations.

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