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Will contractor accountants be affected by HMRC’s season of discontent?

Will contractor accountants be affected by HMRC’s season of discontent?

HMRC members of the PCS union took part in industrial action earlier this month and now plan to walkout on the 30th June in protest over job cuts, changes to public sector pensions and the government’s pay freeze.

The 7th/8th June protest involved finishing work at 4pm, starting work late the following day and taking a 2 hour lunch break. However, this action was not properly organised in some areas of the country and rather than participate in protests, a lot of people simply went home after the 4pm walkout.

There are various issues that are causing discontent amongst Revenue staff at present. One such issue is the new attendance management policy which has reduced the amount of sickness leave an employee is allowed before line managers can consider formal action. Under the new regime, formal action could technically be taken if an employee had four days sickness leave. HMRC currently has the highest rate of sickness absence out of all 103 civil service departments.

At the most recent ballot, 60% of PCS members voted for a strike at the end of June, although the turnout was only 32%. Teachers and members of other unions will also be joining the strike, which is likely to disrupt customer services at HMRC.

The PCS has also warned of the possibility of further strikes this autumn if an agreement cannot be reached with the government. This could cause concern for accountants and taxpayers who file their self-assessment tax returns on paper, as the filing deadline is 31st October.

The Union has also asked accountants to back their strike action but it is unlikely that this call will garner much support.

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