Guidance: Contingent Labour Spend Control

Cabinet Office

January 13
15:48 2022

Interim CL process flowchart

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This guidance sets out:

  • the Policy for Cabinet Offices Contingent Labour (CL) spending control.

  • the types of labour covered by the CL control and how these differ from the separate spending control covering Consultancy and Professional Service (C&PS) contracts.

  • for individual CL recruitment, the day rates and duration thresholds above which the CL control applies, and who has the authority to approve contracts above each threshold.

  • for bulk recruitment campaigns, the threshold above which Cabinet Office approval must be sought.

  • the interim process in place from 1st November 2021 for submitting data to the Cabinet Office and approving spending under the control, before the control is fully rolled out in 2022.

  • the alternative assurance arrangements are in place for Digital, data and technology (DDat) CL.

This guidance will expire on 28th February 2022 to be replaced by final guidance of the finalised control arrangements published on

Policy summary

The purpose of this control is to ensure that CL contracts meet relevant commercial and human resources standards and are not used where better value alternatives are available. It does this by ensuring that there is a justifiable need for CL, they are engaged, used and managed cost effectively, and adequate arrangements are made to recruit permanent or fixed term staff (if the requirement is longer term and this would achieve better value for money) in the meantime.

What is in scope of this spend control?

This control covers central government organisations spending on CL. This is non-civil service temporary labour - contractors, agency workers and temps - who will often, but not always, be recruited to undertake work in a BAU environment (see Annex 2 for guidance on determining BAU). These contracts will generally pay on a time-based rate rather than delivery of an output or outcome.

The following is out of scope of this control:

  • consultancy: This is defined as the purchase of advice to fill a knowledge gap. This can include identification of options and recommendations, or assisting with implementing solutions, but should not be business as usual (BAU), therefore will be time-limited. Consultancy advice may relate to strategy, structure, management or operations of an organisation. Consultants should only be engaged where in-house skills are not available.
  • professional Services: These types of services seek to fill gaps to assist the procuring organisation to deliver or implement an operational service. As such professional services should not be purely (or mostly) advisory.
  • secondments of workers from other organisations
  • contingent labour contributing towards construction of a capital asset

Alternative assurance arrangements

Alternative assurance arrangements have been made for the assurance, approval and reporting of certain types of CL recruitment (eg. DDat and legal specialists). Please see annex 3 for guidance where these apply.

Spend control threshold

All CL contracts with day rates of 750 or over or durations of 12 months or over are within the scope of the spending control. CL contracts that have been extended such that their total duration triggers the 12 month threshold are also in scope of the control. In all cases, day rates should include agency fees (excluding recoverable VAT, as the proceeds go to government, with no additional cost to the exchequer)

In addition, bulk recruitment campaigns (recruiting more than one person in a single campaign), with total costs of 500k (excluding recoverable VAT but including any fees) or over are in the scope of the control. Note: where you have received internal approvals for dissimilar roles batched together these do not count as bulk recruitments, so are outside the scope of the bulk CL recruitmen

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