The Moral Quandary of Exploitation: The Dark Side of some Umbrella Companies


In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workforce, temporary workers have become an integral part of many industries. However, within the realm of temporary employment, a shadowy practice has come to light—one that leaves hardworking contractors feeling betrayed and exploited. The exposé of Orange Genie, an umbrella company that made undisclosed deductions from contractors’ pay, has raised questions about the moral compass of the temporary workforce sector in the UK.

Despite expectations for significant consequences, the lifting of Orange Genie’s suspension by the FCSA, after only six months, has left many contractors feeling disheartened and betrayed and without hope for any redress, until now. Additionally, the industry and confidential commentators are deeply disappointed with professional opinions that claim Orange Genie’s undisclosed deductions were legal due to technicalities surrounding the assignment rate rather than the salary.

The Plight of the Hardworking Contractor

Contractors are the backbone of the modern gig economy. They often work tirelessly, taking on temporary assignments and sacrificing stability in exchange for the promise of flexibility and fair compensation. Yet, behind the scenes, a web of complex intermediaries and payroll systems can obscure the true nature of their financial arrangements.

Orange Genie’s Additional Deduction: A Breach of Trust

Orange Genie’s recent misconduct has shattered the trust placed in umbrella companies by hardworking contractors. By making undisclosed deductions from contractors’ pay, the company exploited a loophole and further deepened the divide between contractors and the organisations they rely on. Contractors, who already struggle to make ends meet, were blindsided by the deduction, with many saying that they “felt deceived and undervalued”. FCSA members came forward to confidentially reveal that they “believe the practice to be both immoral and damaging for the FCSA”, which they have “vehemently adhered to [and] strongly believe in its compliance standard”.

The Moral Dilemma: Right versus Legal

While some professional opinions argue that Orange Genie’s actions were technically legal, it is crucial to distinguish between what is legally permissible and what is morally right. The law should serve as a safeguard for workers’ rights, but it should not be a shield behind which companies can hide morally questionable practices. Contractors who were affected by Orange Genie’s undisclosed deductions find it difficult to reconcile the legality of the situation with the sense of moral betrayal they feel.

Disappointment and Questioning within the Industry

The lifting of Orange Genie’s suspension by the FCSA, after only six months, has left many contractors and industry professionals deeply disappointed. FCSA members expected greater consequences would be imposed on Orange Genie for their exploitative actions. This decision has not only undermined the confidence of contractors but has also raised questions about the FCSA’s commitment to protecting the rights and well-being of temporary workers. One FCSA member stated that “we have been a member for several years now and strongly believe in the compliance standards that are set and that we are measured by at the FCSA in our annual compliance checks”. However, another FCSA member went on to say that “Since the exposé we have learnt that Orange Genie had been deducting the additional £2 for more than the 6 years previously believed and when it came to light, all FCSA members felt the negative impact in the sector… We are also aware that an algorithm was built by the software companies that Orange Genie used to assist them in facilitating this additional deduction and for those of us that hold membership we find this completely unacceptable and damaging to us”.

The FCSA prides itself on being the Gold Standard, however, failed to recognise the additional deduction in any of of their annual compliance checks, raising significant and still unanswered questions about the thoroughness or competence of the annual assessments.

Commentators’ Dissatisfaction

Commentators within the industry have expressed their dissatisfaction with the professional opinions that deem Orange Genie’s undisclosed deductions legal due to technicalities surrounding the assignment rate rather than the salary. Many find it disheartening that such a practice, which clearly undermines the trust and financial stability of contractors, can be justified by legal technicalities, who failed to comment on Orange Genie’s omission of the deduction in contracts, KIDs, and payslips.

It further highlights the need for a re-evaluation of the legal framework to ensure that workers are not subjected to deceptive and exploitative practices. An Orange Genie employee contacted Contractor Voice to share their experience of the scandal, confirming that as employees “When [they] queried the additional deduction, management often provided different answers and the most common answer was that it in fact went ‘towards statutory costs’ although others were told it was ‘to recoup losses incurred during covid’. Neither explanation, even if there was an element of truth in either,  stands up to the lightest of scrutiny.

The employee went on to detail that “The public response from Paul Bresnihan stated that the deduction went towards the employee benefits platform, Edge. However, this platform was released in 2018 and evidence of an additional deduction precedes this by many years”; suggesting that the Director’s response was an attempt to justify and cover up the historic mass deductions.

A Broken System: Industry-Wide Reflection

The exposure of Orange Genie’s, unethical behaviour, combined with the disappointing response from the FCSA and the legal justifications offered, calls for an industry-wide reflection on the state of the temporary workforce sector. It is time for all stakeholders to come together and address the systemic issues that perpetuate exploitation and erode the rights of hardworking contractors.

Calling for Change

The plight of contractors who have been made aware of Orange Genie’s unexplained deductions should not be overlooked or dismissed. The FCSA must take immediate action to restore trust by implementing stricter consequences for unethical behaviour. Moreover, legal experts and stakeholders should collaborate to re-evaluate the legal framework, ensuring it aligns with moral principles and protects the rights and well-being of all contractors. Contractors who suspect wrongful deductions can also now register their interest in joining a group claim.


Orange Genie’s revelation of making undisclosed deductions from contractors’ pay exposes a moral quandary that cannot be ignored. Contractors, who work diligently to earn a living, deserve transparency, fairness, and respect.

Any Contractors who suspect wrongful, unauthorised, or unexplained deductions in their wages by any umbrella employer are invited to register their interest in joining a group claim with the following law firm: Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP here.