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CSCS cards and IFA membership in job adverisements for diggers...what a laugh
If the main contractor's H&S policy says that all people working on their site has a valid CSCS card, then I'm afraid that's what you need, regardless of whether the contractor is physically on site or not. The subcontractor's policy can't override that, unless there is a specific clause in the contract. Ultimately the main contractor had that legal right and obligation, so you can't escape it. And as the majority of archaeology is on that kind of site, you can understand the stipulation in job adverts. None of this means that a) the card is worth the plastic it's written on or b) the humble digger should have to fork out for it out of their hard-earned mind...
There are still many jobs where the archaeology is not sub contracted by a big construction company but is directly commissioned by a client who is not a developer as such. As a client I would look very closely at the health and safety policy of any company I commissioned but would totally disregard CSCS because I do not see that as a measure of competency in managing H&S and on a site where there is no demolition or construction ongoing it would be irrelevant anyway. There is a world beyond developer archaeology surprisingly enough. My criteria would be does this company understand the risks inherent in the type of site they're excavating and archaeology as a whole and if asked to work with the community and volunteers do they understand the particular issues involved.

My original question does the Unit director / specialist consultant/ manager need a CSCS card or is it something for the plebs? (not meant as an insult)
Wax Wrote:I suppose if you pay for it yourself it can be legitimately off set against tax as can the cost of travel to the test venue and any learning resources you invest in. I cannot help thinking it is the employers responsibility to pay for it (many do). I would imagine there are discounts and tax breaks in it for them.

Whilst there may be a tax advantage for an employer to pay for the card (staff training tax allowance), almost certainly HMRC would disallow a claim from an individual for the cost, unless you could demonstrate that the CSCS card was an upgrade to skills you currently possessed, rather than an entry qualification into the profession. Construction sites that say the card alone is evidence of qualification would almost certainly make it fall into the latter category. So probably the cost of the intitial card cannot be offset against tax and therefore neither can the cost of getting to the test centre (of course now several people will post to say that their cost was allowed by HMRC......!!) However, if you are already in possession of a card and need to renew it (I forget off hand how long they are valid for - 2 years?), then you can claim the cost of the second and subsequent cards, as it would count as an upgrade rather than a 'new qualification'......Does that make sense?

PS Last time I went to renew my card the trainer delighted in showing us a selection of forged CSCS cards (apparently there are a lot around - strangely all seeming to feature folk with dark coloured skin and eastern European names it seems!!) and pointed out that anyone turning up with a card on a site was supposed to get the main contractor to verify its legitimacy via the CSCS card legitimacy hotline. You might argue that a contractor who fails to do that is also failing to apply the spirit of the card and once again ask the question what is the card really all about!!

Oh and there are different grades of construction industry CSCS card based upon your level of managerial responsibility, but not sure the gradiations apply to archaeology
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
So if I have been working as an archaeologist for 17 years without an CSCS card is it an upgrade to existing skills or an entry level qualification if I go and pay for one? And is taking a training course course in a particular set of software up grading of skills that can be off set against tax. I know this is avery complicated area but I do think I could prove pretty conclusively that a CSCS card was not for me an entry level qualification having been responsible for the H&S of quite a few projects. Unless of course none of that counts having not been done as a sub contractor for a big construction company or before CSCS came in. Last time I was unemployed I was told I could get the card paid for but when I and my advisor looked into it there was a lot of confusion about which card to go for and I got an archaeological job without it so have not got round to it yet. On my list of things to do when I need to and not before a bit like IFA membership and as about as meaningful. Time for a set of professional qualifications that have some meaning rather than being a money making scam for someone.
We've been putting some of our more senior staff through some of the more advanced CSCS grades [am dreading my turn] - apparently they're streets ahead of the basic ones, everyone's come back saying they're almost useful

On the subject of pointless 'blanket' PPE enforcement, we did a big scheme a couple of years ago where this resulted in people coming down with heat-stroke (potentially fatal) due to people being forced to work in full Class 3 PPE (glasses, gloves, hardhats, the lot) in 80 degree plus temps, gear possibly ok for the main contractors' guys sitting in air-conditioned plant but not much use for an archaeologist using a mattock and shovel. The main contractor's 'solution' to the problem was to issue marginally thinner long-sleaved yellow sweatshirts and 'ventilated' hardhats to back working under the same outfit next month, can't wait...
I don't work for HMRC so couldn't say how they interpret a situation such as Wax describes. I have checked a couple of websites (including MumsNet!!) about offsetting the cost of training against tax and there seems to be contradictory opinion and apparently advice given out by the tax people....I think you take your chances and hope it slips through. As I said once it has been initially recognised any subsequent renewal ought to be tax-efficient...

Interesting question as to whether CSCS is a legitimate 'professional' qualification. Before the card came in I attended 3 or 4 H&S courses at different CFE all of which awarded me certificates having sat through the mandatory lectures and test. I didn't/wouldn't count those as professional qualifications, more as 'vocational'.....same as my chain saw, hilti-gun, first aid certificates. You can offset CPD costs against tax, but not as far as I am aware vocational training (unless as I said earlier, it is to upgrade vocational skills already attested).....the clear majority opinion on this forum seems to be that nearly all worthwhile vocational training in 'professional' archaelogy actually happens in what the IfA would describe as a CPD situation...strange then that the taxman seems to take a different view as to what constitutes vocational and professional development....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
I agree with Wax that something specific to archaeology would be far more preferable. And it's good to know that not all commercial archaeology is driven by construction. Hateful industry that it is! Not that I'm bitter and biased of course... Smile
Indeed not all archaeology is driven by big construction projects but that said most of it is driven by the need to mitigate change. However if is built in early enough to any project it does not have to be done on an active construction site with the other contractors breathing down your neck. And if properly scoped at an early stage there is even the chance to build in proper public facing archaeology and community engagement. There are plenty of oportunities to do this but not in areas driven by commercial imperatives. There are many organisations out there charities, trusts, educational establishments, environmental organisations etc some on a very large scale, who are involved in or comissioning archaeological work.
National Parks and the like seem to commission a ridiculous amount of survey work etc, being in one of the hillier bits of Britain it provides a handy (and fairly frequent) income stream, warrants employing 'specialist' staff...although I have to confess I avoid it wherever possible, upland humps and bumps do nothing for me, after 30-odd years am still waiting for one to get interesting even when I do get to dig a hole in it, grassy hump becomes grassy hump of blank leached soil over bedrock with no finds.... Sad
'Specialist staff' = people who can be a**ed to get excited over grassy humps when they can find them under the heather, bracken, conifers, red squirrel-shit and sheep...each to their own, I prefer deep strat urban stuff with lots of finds :face-approve:

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