Contractor Voice announces that Orange Genie, an FCSA member for over 10 years, has been unlawfully and systematically taking money from contractors, week in, week out for many years.
The evidence collected by Contractor Voice is so clear cut, demonstrating the intention of Orange Genie to skim from the salaries of its contractors, that we urge the FCSA to remove them from its list of members without delay; all contractors employed by them should find a new umbrella, and all agencies to stop working with them for the benefit of contractors.
Here’s the crux of it
- Contractors provided payslips to Contractor Voice for auditing
- All payslips have been forensically audited by saferec.co.uk
- £2 per week has been secretly deducted from every audited payslip
- The deduction is not itemised on the payslip
- This has been Orange Genie practice for at least 5-years
- The total extra revenue generated by OG come to at least £4million
So how does Orange Genie take the skim?
Unbeknown to contractors, £2 per week has been incorrectly deducted and disguised on the payslip in the deduction called “Employment cost, including Employer National Insurance”.
This deduction is consistently equal to the employer national insurance and a £2 additional masked deduction, which is invisible to contractors.
The FCSA code of compliance clearly requires that “the pay reconciliation you [the umbrella company} provide to the employee transparently show an itemised breakdown of all employer costs, including but not limited to the Apprenticeship Levy.” (FCSA Umbrella Employment code of compliance, A17, page 9) No doubt the aim is to give comfort to contractors that the individual elements and calculation are correct. However, none of the Orange Genie payslips that we have seen and audited include an itemised breakdown of the hidden £2 and only becomes visible following a payslip audit.
How has Orange Genie managed to do this?
Given the scale and years of skimming, Contractor Voice believes that investigating authorities must take a very close look at the Orange Genie payroll software as it will have been impossible to skim on this scale without bespoke software involvement.
Contractor Voice continues its investigations to identify the payroll software developer, but this skim may have been purposely designed into the software algorithms so that exactly £2 can be automatically taken from every payment.
How long has this been going on?
Contractor Voice has audited payslips via SafeRec.co.uk dating back from 2017 to September this year, all of which have skimmed from contractors. Orange Genie boast a contractor base in the many thousands (we estimate they have in excess of 8,000 contractors that they are payrolling each week), which if applied across the last five years suggests that the total sum of the skim could be in excess of £4million.
That is £4million that was intended to be paid to contractors. Statistically, some of the contractors would have been nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals, who were working on the frontline during covid and treating the sick and dying. It also means that cash strapped contractors who are suffering from the current cost of living, energy and inflation crisis have also been victims to this treacherous and deliberately designed skim.
How was this not spotted by the FSCA and its Assessors?
The FCSA’s code of compliance states that payslips must provide a breakdown of employment costs. Any FCSA assessor would need to check the payslips to ensure that this breakdown is included, and that the calculation is correct. So, either false documentation was provided to the FCSA assessors, or the assessors are not required to check a member’s calculations, resulting in Orange Genie getting away with this skim year-on-year.
For many years the FCSA has been very vocal and openly marketed that they provide the highest levels of compliance and that all members are subjected to the strictest of ‘Compliance Code Assessments’. A true audit of the type undertaken by Contractor Voice would have immediately identified the systematic skimming.
The truth is, to become or continue to be an FCSA member, businesses merely need to submit fabricated payslips that tick the boxes of the Code, and the assessors rely on this information, without being required to independently check what is occurring in practice.
The Orange Genie evidence is yet another example to prove that the majority in our sector have been duped into believing the FCSA hype that using the services of its members provides some form of protection.
What are the ramifications?
Contractor Voice can see no reason why the FCSA wouldn’t remove Orange Genie from its membership, and it is anticipated that contractors and agencies will leave in their droves.
Let’s not overlook the consequences to HMRC? The skimmed amounts should likely have been subject to income tax and NIC’s, so the treasury has also lost out.
How has the total amount skimmed been accounted for? The RTI’s submitted to HMRC might be an interesting read, as will be the Orange Genie accounts and remuneration paid to individuals that have been complicit in the decisions to skim.
If it is tax evasion, this means that liabilities now exist in supply chains under The Criminal Finance Act 2017. A precarious position for agencies dealing with Orange Genie, especially if it’s business closes with no recoverable assets – who will HMRC pursue? Potentially the agencies.
Where does this leave the FCSA?
Here’s some well used FCSA rhetoric: “FCSA accreditation is recognised as the industry’s compliance gold standard. It is rigorous and stringent and annual assessments are carried out independently by nationally renowned professional service firms.”
Rarely can a statement be so untrue. This exposé demonstrates that the FCSA compliance standard is categorically not fit for purpose; a member has been able to systematically skim from salaries unnoticed and retained membership year on year.
For at least 5 years the FCSA has allowed this malpractice to go unchecked and perpetuate. The FCSA has been complicit, and the buck must stop with it. The FCSA must take proactive measures to inform the whole supply chain of any incidences like this and to inform businesses that it does not provide protection to anyone in the supply chain.
So, what next if you are now or have been employed by Orange Genie?
If still employed, the advice of Contractor Voice is to find another umbrella. For any contractor that has previously been employed by Orange Genie, we offer you the opportunity to have all your payslips audited by us. If you have been a victim of this deliberate skim by Orange Genie, we can assist you in obtaining legal advice to try and recover it.
We will continue to highlight and fight the injustices that befall contractors and encourage all contractors to be vigilant and check their payslips every week. If you are unsure if your payslip is correct, please liaise directly with us and we can assist you.
As for agencies…
There is no commercial sense in continuing any relationship with Orange Genie, so terminate it without delay to limit the potential financial liabilities you have been incurring.
You should immediately inform all your candidates that they must find another umbrella so that they do not continue to suffer financial losses.
Although not all FCSA members are rogue, do not just blindly turn to another FCSA member to fill the void and force your candidates to use another one. With this exposé and earlier ones, Contractor Voice has demonstrated that being an FCSA member gives neither you nor your candidates or your clients any protection against unlawful actions.
Regardless of whatever compliance badge an umbrella relies upon, undertake proper due diligence, ask some very difficult and pointed questions over conduct and, perhaps most importantly, get payslips audited and protect your supply chain.