14 Sep 2018 | Aeroventic


The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has attacked employment agencies and umbrella companies accused of deducting the Apprenticeship Levy from workers’ wages.

The trade union Unite said it had been shown payslips that included the deductions and called for the practice to be stopped. BESA said it would be encouraging its members not to use agencies that engage in a practice it described as “unethical”.

Only employers with payrolls of more than £3m pay into the Levy via the tax system – and the money is used to fund apprenticeship training across industry. As the companies who pay the Levy are also entitled to use that money for training, any deduction from workers could effectively provide them with a profit.

“While this may not break the letter of the law, it certainly goes against its spirit,” said Tony Howard, director of BESA Training. “Agency workers probably feel obliged to accept this condition in order to secure employment, but companies who use agencies should insist on seeing evidence that they are not indulging in this highly dubious practice.”

Unite said it was “highly immoral” to force workers to accept these deductions. Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail described it as “a scam” and demanded the government take action.

Mr Howard suggested workers might also consider moving on to other agencies “who won’t rip them off” adding “next we’ll be hearing that they are deducting other levies like VAT and employers’ national insurance contributions”.

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