APSCo Compliance Assessment


Trusted Partner members who offer or provide any Relevant Services within the UK, or who appear to APSCo to offer or provide any Relevant Services within the UK, are required under the Trusted Partners' Terms and Conditions of membership to undergo an external compliance assessment of aspects of any Relevant Services provided.

Definition of “Relevant Services”

Any of the following services offered or provided to, or in relation to candidates including candidates operating as limited company contractors, would be considered Relevant Services.

  • Professional employer services – umbrella
  • Employee leasing
  • Professional employer services – other than traditional umbrella (including PEO and Joint Employment models)
  • Freelance support and accounting services
  • Contractor support and accounting services
  • International contracting services – non UK placements

Members are required to obtain an APSCo Umbrella Company Assessment as detailed below if they provide Professional employer services – umbrella.
Many Trusted Partners offering umbrella services also provide other services listed under Relevant Services. APSCo do not support an assessment for these Relevant Services but expect Trusted Partners to maintain an independent compliance assessment to provide Employee leasing and Professional employer services – other than traditional umbrella by maintaining Professional Passport or FCSA membership for those Relevant Services.
We expect our Trusted Partners offering Contractor support and accounting services and Freelance support and accounting services, to regularly obtain a compliance review of these services from either Professional Passport, the FCSA or Saffery Champness. 
APSCo will decide at its absolute discretion whether a service provided by a Trusted Partner company is a Relevant Service and whether the APSCo Umbrella Company Assessment is required.

APSCo Umbrella Company Assessment

The Umbrella Assessment will be undertaken by one of a number of approved external advisors, who undertake on-site (or virtual equivalent) reviews of the relevant aspects of the Trusted Partner’s compliance to applicable UK legislation and best practice. The external advisor will provide a compliance report, which the Trusted Partner can then make available to members. The external advisor will also provide both the Trusted Partner and APSCo with confirmation when the compliance assessment took place, whether the Trusted Partner passed or failed the assessment and the date of renewal. 
The purpose of the assessment is to give APSCo members a reasonable level of reassurance that providers of Umbrella services who have undergone the Review have no hallmarks of certain practices which might:

  • lead to UK tax or other liabilities for the APSCo members if they refer candidates to such providers or otherwise engage candidates who are advised or supported by or engaged via such providers;
  • lead to a supply chain facilitating “disguised remuneration”; or
  • not comply with the requirements of UK tax, national insurance and other relevant UK applicable laws.

APSCo does not accept or assume any responsibility or liability whatsoever for any claims, demands, actions, proceedings, damages, losses, loss of profit, costs, expenses or any other consequences, whether direct or indirect, howsoever arising including but not limited to from the APSCo Umbrella Assessment. Recruitment members, Trusted Partner members and third parties should be aware that the Umbrella Assessment although thorough, cannot be relied upon to ensure that the Professional employer services - Umbrella are completely compliant to all UK legislation.
Compliance requirements in this area are very complex and best practice is constantly changing. The APSCo Umbrella Assessment does not replace the need for members and others to carry out their own due diligence and enter robust contractual terms with their service providers. Please note that the APSCo Umbrella Assessment only covers organisations employing candidates in the United Kingdom.

International contracting services – non-UK placements

It is not possible for APSCo within any reasonable fee, to fully assess companies based and/or operating and/or providing certain services outside the United Kingdom as they will be subject to local legislation and compliance regulations. APSCo does however, ask all Trusted Partners providing International contracting services – non UK placements to complete an annual International Compliance Questionnaire regarding any Relevant Services provided outside of the UK, which is then reviewed by one of our Trusted Partners.

Details of this process can be found here

The APSCo International Compliance Questionnaire process does not replace the need for Members and others to carry out their own due diligence, compliance checks and enter into robust contractual terms with any international contracting service providers they wish to engage.

Frequency of APSCo Umbrella Assessment

An APSCo Umbrella Assessment will be conducted initially on application for Trusted Partner membership, and thereafter a full APSCo Umbrella Assessment will take place in accordance with the FCSA and Professional Passport membership criteria from time to time, but there will be at least a full assessment every two years with an annual review. Some external advisors may require further intermediate updates from the Trusted Partners.

APSCo Umbrella Assessment Criteria

APSCo requires that all external advisors undertaking the Compliance Assessment do so to a set of standard criteria. It is up to members to question Trusted Partners directly if they require more detailed information.

APSCo consulted HMRC who have confirmed it "welcomes any initiative to improve voluntary compliance in the temporary labour market, and indeed supporting businesses to comply voluntarily with their obligations is a key element of HMRC’s compliance strategy. Accordingly, any initiatives by APSCo to encourage and support voluntary compliance by APSCo members is to be welcomed”.

Please be aware that the APSCo Umbrella Assessment is based on an assessment sampling process undertaken at a particular point in time. Therefore, it cannot be relied upon to ensure that the relevant services are completely compliant to all UK legislation.

External professional advisors

APSCo has a number of external professional advisors, which meet APSCo’s criteria to undertake Compliance Reviews of APSCo Trusted Partners. Each external professional advisor has a person or persons who have passed APSCo’s criteria as qualified to undertake APSCo Compliance Assessments. 

Please see below the list of our external professional advisors currently offering the APSCo Umbrella Assessment process. Trusted Partners are at liberty to choose any one or more of the following options:

  • Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA): maintained membership of the FCSA will satisfy the APSCo Umbrella Assessment criteria, subject to satisfying the other conditions of APSCo Umbrella Trusted Partner membership. To join the FCSA the Trusted Partner will undergo an initial due diligence process and a comprehensive review of their business services, operations, policies, and processes by means of an extensive questionnaire and onsite assessment. Once this process has been successfully completed the file goes to HMRC along with the report from the accountants. This review process is completed annually to ensure that standards are maintained and any changes to legislation are applied. For further information go to https://www.fcsa.org.uk/membership/ or contact: [email protected].
  • Professional Passport: maintained membership of Professional Passport will satisfy the APSCo Umbrella Assessment criteria subject to satisfying the other conditions of APSCo Umbrella Trusted Partner membership.  Professional Passport has developed an audit standard to assess a provider’s compliance. The assessments are based on their understanding of HMRC's current interpretation, management, and enforcement of the current legislation applying to the sector. The assessment has been designed around a low risk profile and seeks to ensure that providers are not operating in a way that is likely to be challenged by HMRC. Every 6 months the service provider is sent a copy of the assessment report and asked to confirm any changes or sign as is, and annually a confirmation assessment is carried out to ensure the documented processes and procedures are fully evidenced. Agency members of Professional Passport are also provided with a £5m insurance against MSC debt transfer where they use a Professional Passport approved provider. For further information, go to https://www.professionalpassport.com/Providers/APSCO/496
  • Saffery Champness: Saffery Champness is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. They will also use the services of a solicitor regulated by the Law Society to deal with legal compliance matters. They will visit the service provider and corroborate the responses given to their initial questionnaire. Their assessment report clearly sets out their findings and provides recommendations for improvements where appropriate. They provide a “reasonable assurance” opinion for the reader of the report and encourage sending a copy of the report to HMRC. This assessment would need to be undertaken annually. For further information contact [email protected]