The impact of the COVID pandemic on the supply of suitably qualified security operatives is obvious to many in the industry. I have had countless people get in touch over the past few months who are being offered cash in hand work within the security sector. I’ve also had employers get in touch saying that that job candidates are demanding cash in hand to work and will only start if the work is off the books so they can continue to claim PUP and other payments. You can argue the morals of it all day long and sure there will be people on both sides of the fence here but if we stick exactly to the facts of the matter it is illegal and it is dangerous and it if you are an individual then it is stupid.
Lets look at why
I’m going to leave the Revenue/tax implications alone here and stick to what I know about. Providing and engaging security staff for cash is illegal on both sides. The Private Security Services Act 2004 makes it an offence to provide a security service without a licence and to engage the services of a person or company without a licence.
If you engage a person to supply security and they are not an employee then they are a contractor. They effectively become a security company. When they provide security they are a security provider under the law and as such should be a licenced company with the PSA .
If you are a person who has engaged security and something happens. The authorities will show up and you will have two options:
- Tell them that the person providing security is not an employee and is a contractor and face prosecution by the PSA
- Tell them that the person is an employee but not on the books and face a Revenue investigation.
If you are a person ( the individual) who is supplying security and being paid cash you have both of the above options with the added bonus that if you are claiming any state benefits you will also face a case from the Department of Social Protection and potentially lose both your cash in hand and your benefits while its investigated.
If you get injured while being paid cash in hand the person engaging you may try to wash their hands of you for insurance purposes or any injury or sickness benefit. If you get hurt and are unable to work you may be left with no option but to take the very long route of taking a personal injury claim against the person who engaged you. They will likely rely on the defence that you were not an employee but a contractor and you should have your own insurance.
What if you hurt someone else? What if someone accidently gets hurt where you were working. They will likely put in a personal injury claim against the place who will likely name you as a co-defendant. If you are working cash in hand then the chances are that you will not have paid out the large sums of money that security companies have to do for insurance. If an award of compensation is made, then it is made against you personally. You dont have the protection of being a limited company and you are personally liable for it. It could mean that you lose your car, your house or have an attachment made to your wages for many years to pay the debt . That’s without the large legal fees you will personally have to pay to fight the case.
Like I said above cash in hand work is illegal, dangerous and stupid. If you want to do it then by all means go for it but don’t do it and then call yourself a security professional. It might be seen as getting one up on the state or pulling a fast one that you can brag to your mates about but as the old saying goes “everything is ok, until it’s not”. You can choose to accept the risk of being in debt for years if you want but I don’t see the sense in it. People will only continue to offer cash in hand if there is a demand for it. If you choose to be that demand then go for it but be aware of the consequences before you do it.