Introducing our new Director of Operations at Workr Solutions and Easypay

Workr is growing. So much so, in fact, that we’ve recently hired for some key roles to strengthen our infrastructure and help deliver a real impact to our industry.

One of these hires is Charlotte Allen, our new Director of Operations at Workr Solutions and Easypay, and the individual who will help streamline our processes and improve our service delivery through technology.

But don’t just take our word for it. We asked Charlotte to describe her experience and how it will help the Workr network… 

How did you get into recruitment?

My journey into recruitment started at nGAGE in 2013. Initially I was a junior credit controller, getting to terms with the finance side of recruitment. I worked my way into management and became more involved in billing cycles until eventually I was overseeing the entire credit control team.

As the business grew, I was promoted to Director of Operations. Naturally this meant I played a larger role in terms of managing credit risk and improving service delivery to both agencies and clients.

This experience was essential as it meant I interacted more with the internal sales side and started implementing the new systems that would be crucial to our development. Of course, having spent the better half of my recruitment career at nGAGE, I wanted to take these insights and apply them at another organisation.

When did Workr come in?

I had previously worked with Yves Bizimana, the Managing Director of Easypay and Workr Solutions, so I reached out to him while I was reviewing my options. As luck would have it, Yves was in the market looking for a Director of Operations as both businesses were expanding.

As soon as he described the role, I knew it was for me. Having now met the team and introduced myself to a number of clients, I’ve started implementing methods picked up from my previous roles, and I look forward to seeing the difference they make.

While the title remains the same, the scale of the work is much bigger. Up until this point, Workr and Easypay have been siloed, working independently of each other when they could be doing so much more together. My goal is to unify these arms of the Workr Group and address any pain points within the customer journey.

To provide an excellent service and implement the latest technology, you need to be the very best. That’s why it gives me great pleasure to add Charlotte to our group. I’ve seen first-hand the difference she makes to service delivery and team productivity. Our clients benefit greatly from this hire, and I have no doubt she’ll fit in seamlessly with our teams in the UK and India.

Yves Bizimana, Managing Director of Easypay and Workr Solutions

How will your expertise help Workr make a difference?

Leveraging my knowledge of outsourcing, service delivery and automation software, I intend to alleviate administrative burdens from Workr stakeholders and lead on project management.

Acting as an additional level of support, I want to improve efficiency so that we’re able to better allocate resources as an organisation and improve client satisfaction. Specifically, this means getting all members of the team singing from the same hymn sheet and minimising duplication.

As Easypay merges into Workr, I intend to better synchronise their individual services and further boost performance for both teams. What’s more, I look forward to how this integration will benefit the customers and agencies we work with.

How Workr can help you

If you’d be interested in how either Workr or Easypay could simplify the way you work, get in touch today. We’re always open to talk about recruitment solutions, and with our latest hire, we’re even more prepared to tailor our services towards your needs.

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Challenging stereotypes in recruitment

After a 20-year career in customer service, Gareth Murphy joined the Workr ranks as a team leader. His experience has given him a deep understanding of what ‘best in class’ service looks like, and it’s something that he’s since implemented here. Of course, that takes a lot of listening to current clients and other contractors… 

Aside from hearing that we should bring on more self-serve mechanics, digital channels and other features that make our service more accessible, Gareth found that we also needed to work on removing the stigma around umbrella companies. We’re proud to be an umbrella company, but they do have a mixed reputation in recruitment. 

So Gareth made it his mission not only to make our service the best that it can be, but also to reshape the industry at large. Here, he explains why.

How did you get into recruitment?

I started off as an advisor on the phone. I enjoyed speaking to people and thought I could make a career out of it, so it felt like a natural move to become a team leader at Workr Umbrella. I’ve since progressed to the role of Head of Customer Experience, and endeavour to impart some of the tips, tricks and knowledge I’ve picked up along the way.

Before I can actually make a difference to anyone’s experience though, I actually need to find out what people want to change. That means creating feedback forms, running focus groups with agencies, and calling customers directly to gain a better sense of their challenges and needs. 

What aspect of recruitment do you handle?

Ultimately, I review our processes and help shape the customer journey. As mentioned, that means getting feedback from every available stakeholder I can, and bringing it all together into a list of actions we can take that will improve our customer experience here at Workr.

For example, it’s no secret that people want to be paid, and be paid on time. Due to the nature of certain projects that contractors work on, delays and pushbacks can affect everyone’s wallet. So part of my job is both to prevent these delays from happening and to manage expectations when it comes to pay calculation.

A lot of job advertisements don’t factor in the various fees that are subsequently deducted from a contractor’s wage. Naturally, when they see their take-home pay fall short of what they’d planned for, someone needs to articulate what these charges are and why they’re worth it.

What are the challenges for you?

A large part of my day consists of making it clear to contractors what, when and how they will be paid – from the very start of their relationship with us. That way, there’s no confusion when it comes to payment, plus they have a better understanding of the benefits of our service.

The trouble is that non-compliant umbrella companies have in the past misled contractors around pay. And, on some occasions, these malignant organisations will sidestep paying certain taxes in order to offer more money. Of course, if (and inevitably when) the taxman arrives to collect payment, it’s the contractor’s door they knock on.

I understand why these individuals choose the higher salary. There’s no shortage of roles where an extra £100 is considered life-changing. But these short-term gains simply can’t outweigh the benefits we offer.

How do you overcome these challenges?

I educate contractors on how a compliant umbrella service has many advantages over a non-compliant organisation. What’s more, I deliver on our promise of a tailored service that supports the individual contractor on their mission to maximise their income.

Some of the benefits that usually motivate contractors include SSP, maternity pay, paternity pay, and a cash health plan. The cash health plan is especially useful as it allows contractors to collect up to £670 at the end of the year for the likes of dental check-ups and optician appointments.

It’s these perks that keep our customers choosing us over those unscrupulous businesses that try to tempt them with false promises of higher pay.

What do you predict will be the next big change in recruitment?

The proposed National Insurance rise could cause agencies to up their rates. As they handle both employers and the contractors themselves, it may be the agencies who have to pick up the bill when it comes to an increase in taxation.

This, of course, is all the more reason to build up trust with our network and explain what the higher fees are and why they have been introduced.

To discuss how best to approach this, or if you have any ideas around how we can improve our service further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email garethm@workrgroup.com.

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IR35 Reforms – What has Workr Compliance been doing?

In a nutshell, we’ve supported our clients with impartial and compliant advice on continuing with business as usual (BAU) post IR35 Reform.

Since the introduction of the IR35 reforms to the private sector in April this year, we’ve been working closely with engagers and agencies to meet the new legislative requirements. We’ve consulted with them through the preparation phase and assisted them in formulating working practices that allow them to continue with BAU.

In our previous article, IR35 Reforms – Key Lessons Learned, we highlighted how introducing the Off-payroll legislation reforms was not the end of the process. We went as far as to say that it was only the beginning of the IR35 compliance lifecycle.

Our approach with clients has looked at how to make the most of the legislation’s opportunity and gain a competitive advantage through a structured, compliant and reflective process.

IR35 Reforms for Engagers

The most significant change brought about by the legislative reforms was the shift in assessment responsibility from the contractor to the engager.

The changes represented a significant increase in responsibilities for compliance and reporting and, in many cases, prompted a recoil response.

In other words, the risk seemed too high and the administration too onerous.

Hence, we observed many engagers making blanket statements or ruling out the use of Personal Service Company (PSC) contractors altogether. Whilst this approach removed the immediate responsibility of IR35, the longer-term effects weren’t given much consideration, and the impact is now beginning to bite.

Skilled contractors are migrating to those engagers offering legitimate and compliant ‘outside IR35’ assignments, leaving those engagers who took the short-term, ‘avoid IR35’ approach with significant skills gaps and problems meeting deadlines, schedules or targets.

In contrast, Workr Compliance has been supporting engagers to implement compliant processes that efficiently and effectively manage the status determination phase, meet the reasonable care requirements of HMRC and compliantly utilise a skilled, flexible workforce to enable BAU.

As importantly in our opinion, we’ve also been supporting engagers with a review of the working practices they follow when engaging contractors.

In many cases before the reforms, engagers treated PSCs in much the same way they treated their employees.

Issuing of corporate clothing, invitations to company socials and the use of company canteens are just a small number of examples of practices that would lead HMRC to a ‘disguised employee’ verdict.

Workr Compliance has been working with engagers to evaluate their working practices when utilising PSCs. We have assisted them in formulating transparent and compliant methods and processes for engaging with PSCs that have been communicated throughout their businesses to ensure a consistent approach throughout all business functions.

In doing so, we have helped our clients gain a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining highly skilled talent whilst maintaining BAU.

IR35 Reforms for Agencies

One of the key benefits of working with Workr Compliance is that we offer an impartial service that supports agencies and the supply chain as well as engagers.

Following the reforms, agencies have come under immense pressure from engagers to maintain the status quo between the flexible workforce and the hiring community. A thankless task, given that those engagers that took a blanket approach removed PSC’s option to contract through their own limited company. Even worse, they forced them into PAYE models resulting in an immediate reduction in rate. Neither action is sitting well with the PSC community.

At Workr Compliance, we have been working closely with agencies in the supply chain to help them understand their role in the IR35 process. We’ve partnered with them to help present solutions or guides to their end clients, and we’ve assisted them in formulating strategies for retaining and attracting the skilled and white-collar talent pool.

IR35 compliance is an ongoing process

In all cases, we have been proactive in encouraging organisations and individuals that IR35 compliance is an ongoing process that requires regular review.

Maintaining a compliant process that is reviewed regularly is the key to avoiding errors, investigations and subsequent fines or penalties.

If your response to the reforms is subsequently causing you problems with administration or the retention or attraction of talent, it’s not too late to change.

For a free, no-obligation audit and assessment of your IR35 compliance process, you can speak directly with Andy Webster, Founder and Director, Workr Compliance, on 07827 810851 or at aw@workrgroup.com.

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How customer care will win the talent wars

From admin assistant to senior sales director, Ashley McClure has seen almost every aspect of a recruitment business. But it’s in her current role as account director that she makes the biggest difference to Workr clients. Whether that’s through plugging skills gaps or ensuring contractors are paid deserving wages, her work delivers realistic solutions to those who need them.

With the landscape shifting closer to a global workforce, the challenges facing construction businesses (and almost all other industries) are growing.

That’s why we asked Ashley to tell us about her recruitment journey so far, and weigh in on some of the sector’s biggest issues.

How did you get into recruitment?

I fell into recruitment through an admin role. From there, I went to resourcing and gradually moved up into actual recruitment.

Today, I’m an account director. My day to day includes bringing in new accounts, managing teams and advising clients on the options available. That could be clients from all industries, but I specialise in construction, rail and engineering. In fact, it’s thanks to this niche that I was able to secure positions with a well known rail company.

What aspect of recruitment do you handle?

Generally, I deal with the contracting population and keep abreast of what projects people are involved with. Anything from navigating PAYE alternatives, advising on SDC work and supporting end clients with skills gaps. 

Because of this approach, we’re seeing over 700 referrals a week. Only by asking questions and actually understanding what contractors are working on can we offer a solution.

I do the same level of outreach with our current accounts, ensuring there’s a happy balance between incoming and retained business. Complacency will lose you clients. We designate our resources to be hands-on with every consultant we work with.

What are the challenges for you?

In the current climate, a lot of my clients can’t fill the roles. Brexit, COVID-19 and the skills gap mean that vacancies are staying open for much longer. As a result, organisations are losing weeks, despite completion dates staying the same.

With enormous infrastructure projects such as the ones I deal with, it’s difficult to find alternative solutions when the talent simply isn’t there. Yet the demands of the work are growing by the day.

Even in the instances where you have contractors, they’re often so motivated by their rate of pay that clients lose them to local competitors for the slightest increase. This makes it difficult for organisations to hold onto the talent they do acquire.

How do you help clients overcome the challenges in that niche?

It’s a case of understanding their specific needs. For example, it could be as straightforward as their location. A lot of contractors won’t travel beyond their means for a role when there’s a similar vacancy close by with a competitor.

By looking at the average tenure of our contractors, we’re able to protect our clients from losing talent at a moment’s notice. Recently, we had a number of contractors consider leaving an end client because of auto-enrolment and pension contributions.

We’d previously mentioned that they’d need to ring customer care and opt-out, but the message had been lost, and the deduction in take-home pay was a surprise. Fortunately, we overcame those challenges by ringing the contractors directly. It’s this personalised service that gives the client more time to focus on projects and filling positions.

What do you predict will be the next big change in recruitment

More international business roles are coming up. There’s a dramatic increase in people willing to work further afield, not just for money, but for job security too.

This, combined with the factors already straining the market, means we’re likely to see an even greater skills gap for end clients – especially if they aren’t paying more money. There’s only so long we’ll see organisations able to afford missing deadlines. Instead, they’ll have to increase the budget for talent acquisition, and be more flexible with completion dates.
Until then, Workr are here to help agencies access untapped talent and enhance their service to clients. So, if you’re interested in leveraging our expertise, get in touch on ashleym@workrgroup.com.

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IR35 Reforms – Key lessons learned

Since the introduction of the IR35 reforms to the private sector in April this year, Workr Compliance has been working closely with contractors, engagers and agencies to meet the new legislative requirements.

The fundamental changes in responsibilities brought about by the reforms have presented some significant challenges to the temporary labour supply chain. In recent articles, we have highlighted the risks associated with the blanket statement approach that many engagers appear to have taken.

We’ve also analysed how IR35 insurance policies, in support of a robust compliance and assessment process, might help reduce or even remove the risk of engaging contractors on an “outside IR35” basis.

And, we’ve assessed how the IR35 reforms have created a divide between project and hiring managers, desperate to retain or attract highly skilled specialist contractors and risk-averse legal and HR departments, keen to avoid the repercussions of HMRC investigations and IR35 assessment challenges.

So what have we learned in the first four months following the introduction of the IR35 reforms?

IR35 or not, the world keeps turning

First and foremost, the world hasn’t stopped turning. Businesses are continuing to trade and hire, and the need for a skilled and flexible workforce has not gone away.

On the contrary, in fact.

As the global economy emerges from the difficulties of the last 18 months, the outlook appears bright.

Investment levels are on the rise, and the economy is showing signs of a quick recovery. These signs are breeding confidence in the marketplace, and recruitment activity, including temporary labour, is expanding at record rates. According to the REC’s report on Jobs for June, “temp billings growth hit its highest for nearly 23 years”.

So what can engagers do to make the most of this resurgence whilst remaining compliant to the Off-payroll legislation?

IR35 Reforms – Lessons learned

It’s not too late.

Case studies in the public sector are now demonstrating HMRC’s approach to poor IR35 reform preparation and care.

The Home Office and DWP have both recently been issued with significant bills from HMRC as a result of carelessness and errors in their handling of the reforms.

It’s now almost five months since the IR35 reforms took effect but with HMRCs soft landing approach, it’s not too late to implement or improve processes to meet the off-payroll legislation.

Effective planning and collaboration in the supply chain

Our experiences over the last few months have shown us that those engagers that have “gone it alone” without engaging with their supply chain partners have experienced severe difficulties in getting the assessment program up and running effectively.

In many cases, suppliers have had to repeatedly return to engagers for clarification and guidance on how assessments have been conducted and concluded. Subsequently, we have observed far higher rates of challenges where engagers have not planned and collaborated with suppliers on how to achieve a valid status determination.

For further information on valid Status Determination Statements, see HMRC’s Employment Status Manual (ESM10013).

Compliance is an ongoing process.

One of the biggest issues that we have observed since the introduction of the reforms is the failure of engagers to plan for their IR35 responsibilities as part of their ongoing business processes.

Planning for, and responding to the introduction of the reforms only met the requirements of the legislation for engagers and contractors on assignment at that point in time.

We are now seeing engagers struggling with talent retention and attraction because they haven’t integrated their IR35 responsibilities into their recruitment and attraction frameworks.

For engagers to remain competitive and compliant in the contractor marketplace, IR35 compliance must form part of the ongoing “business as usual” process. 

IR35 – Business As Usual

Businesses should not underestimate the benefits of having a defined, robust and documented process for IR35 assessment.

Engagers prepared to invest in some simple processes and procedures, along with the support of compliant suppliers, can quickly and easily mitigate the risks posed by the new legislation and meet HMRC’s requirements.

At Workr Compliance we encourage anyone responsible for IR35 compliance to ensure that your determination process is fit for purpose and meets HMRC’s reasonable care requirements.

Although the IR35 changes are now in effect, it’s not too late to take action.

To help meet your reasonable care responsibilities concerning IR35 compliance, our specialist team at Workr Compliance can provide impartial advice and support.

For a free, no-obligation audit and assessment of your IR35 compliance process, you can speak directly with Andy Webster, Founder and Director, Workr Compliance, on 07827 810851 or at aw@workrgroup.com.

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IR35 insurance – Reducing risk

Since the introduction of the IR35 reforms to the private sector in April this year, one of the main topics of conversation amongst engagers has been risk. In particular, the risk posed to engagers by assessing their contractors as being outside of IR35.

In the period leading up to and post the Off-payroll working legislation introduction, many engagers took an ultra-cautious approach and opted to assess contractors as inside IR35. In some cases, they were even implementing policies ruling out personal service company (PSC) contractors altogether.

While these approaches have either significantly reduced or even removed any risk posed by the Off-payroll legislation, have engagers got it right, and can IR35 insurance policies play a part in reducing the risk of engaging contractors outside IR35?

Engagers risk-averse to new IR35 responsibilities

The main impact of the IR35 reforms was to shift the responsibility for IR35 determinations from contractor to engager (unless the engager qualified as a small business). Failure to make a determination, or take reasonable care in making a determination, would leave the engager liable for any subsequent incorrect or unpaid taxes.

As a result, many engagers responded with inside IR35 blanket determinations for all PSC contractors.

Whilst these actions removed some of the immediate responsibility and risk of the Off-payroll legislation, an element of risk remained. Blanket statements directly contravened HMRC’s reasonable care requirements and represented a significant risk for those engagers that followed this route.

IR35 Insurance – risk versus reward 

Our recent article, The IR35 divide, highlighted the conflict between risk-averse legal and taxation representatives and under pressure recruiters and managers who need specialised skills and talent.

The loss of specialised and high-calibre contractors due to “inside IR35” determinations or blanket statements was repeatedly raised as a threat to engagers looking to circumnavigate the IR35 reforms.

Therefore, we raised the question of whether accepting some IR35 risk with IR35 insurance backing would be outweighed by the reward of the business gained in doing so?

You can read more here.

IR35 Compliance and insurance

Evidence is already giving us examples of skilled contractors migrating to “outside IR35” assignments. For those engagers that made inside IR35 blanket statements, this migration is causing huge issues concerning skills gaps, workload capacity and project consistency. In some cases, engagers have already fallen behind on project timescales and risk incurring delivery penalties or stoppage fines.

With the economy showing signs of recovery and public investment increasing, the need for skilled and motivated contractors is also likely to increase. However, contractor availability has become a significant and immediate issue for engagers that took a risk-averse approach.

So can IR35 insurance make a difference? The answer depends on whether engagers are prepared to overcome their fear of risk.

A robust compliance process underpinned with a comprehensive insurance policy could eradicate almost all of the engager’s risk. Engagers with a robust due diligence process and some qualified, professional support should have little trouble identifying a supply chain and process that includes an insurance provision.

IR35 insurance policies provided on the strength of the compliance process will usually include First and Upper-tier tax tribunal representation, cover for previous tax years for up to six years, and cover all defence costs, including liabilities and penalties.

Engaging with fee payers (agencies) with insurance protection should leave engagers with very little to fear from HMRC’s transfer of debt provisions and everything to gain from a talented contractor workforce keen to provide their services.

What now?

Our Founder and Director of Workr Compliance, Andrew Webster, recently hosted a webinar with Markel Tax on IR35 insurance. For a complimentary recording of the webinar, please click here. 

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The IR35 divide

As we slowly emerge from the difficulties of the last 18 months, the outlook for the economy appears bright.

We are beginning to see investment levels start to rise, high streets starting to reopen, and the economy showing signs of recovery. According to the REC’s report on Jobs for June, “The steady return to more normal business operations, improved market confidence and greater demand for staff all drove a further marked increase in recruitment activity in June. Permanent staff appointments expanded at the quickest rate since the survey began in October 1997”.

Particularly interesting was the news that “temp billings growth hit its highest for nearly 23 years”. This is surely a sign of businesses looking to get back to pre-pandemic levels but not quite confident enough to respond by taking on permanent employees.

While this might sound like a positive for contractors, the introduction of the IR35 reforms to the private sector earlier this year has created a divide within businesses that is likely to get worse as a result of recent good news.

Attracting talent post IR35 reforms

In a recent article, IR35 reforms – Warnings becoming a reality, we highlighted how the war for talent was probably the most significant risk of all to engagers as the economy began to recover.

The loss of specialised and high-calibre talent due to “inside IR35” determinations or blanket statements was repeatedly raised as a threat to engagers looking to circumnavigate the IR35 reforms. Contractors migrating to companies offering “outside IR35” assignments are leaving huge skills gaps and gaping holes in project capability and success.

Critically, this is not likely to happen gradually over time; it is happening almost immediately. We already see examples across various industries where engagers took a blanket approach and ruled all of their PSC contractors inside IR35 and suffered an almost instant loss of a significant and skilled section of their workforce. Leaders and Managers are now struggling to attract the talent and expertise needed to complete work and projects on time and to standard.

The costs of losing business, missing deadlines and project failure

This is where the divide caused by the IR35 Reforms really begins to tell.

The incorporated costs of failing to deliver on projects or missing deadlines for delivery can often reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds depending on the size of the project.

Additionally, there is also the opportunity cost of future projects and work lost due to incapacity to deliver. Add in the costs of brand and reputational damage due to poor project delivery, reduced quality and extended completion times, and the potential impact on a business’s profit and loss is difficult to ignore.

Legal and taxation – IR35 risk-averse

In many cases, higher volume contract engagers have taken advice from legal departments and advisors to avert the IR35 legislation due to the risks and potential costs involved. It’s true that should an engager be found to have made an incorrect IR35 status determination, then the liability for any unpaid taxes and NI would fall upon them.

However, are the amounts of tax and NI accumulated really going to hit the hundreds of thousands that a failed project might incur?

HMRC has also actively promoted a soft introduction for the reforms, so engagers have the first 12 months to get their processes right before facing any financial penalties for incorrect determinations.

As an extra safety net, an insurance policy that supports a strong compliance process can almost completely wipe out the risk of IR35. Policies provided on the strength of the compliance process will usually include First and Upper-tier tax tribunal representation, cover for previous tax years for up to six years, and cover all defence costs, including liabilities and penalties.

Therefore, engaging with suppliers with insurance protection should leave engagers with very little to fear from HMRC’s transfer of debt provisions and everything to gain from a talented contractor workforce keen to provide their services.

The risks and costs associated with IR35 cannot be discounted. However, are they really comparable to the risks and costs associated with the inability to provide a service or deliver against a project brief?

Time to re-think your IR35 strategy?

It’s not too late to implement or change your process regarding IR35, and we encourage anyone responsible for IR35 compliance to ensure that your determination process is fit for purpose and meets HMRC’s reasonable care requirements.

To help you reduce IR35 risk, retain a competitive advantage and meet your reasonable care responsibilities concerning IR35 compliance, Workr Group’s specialist team can provide impartial advice and support.

For a free, no-obligation audit and assessment of your IR35 compliance process, you can speak directly with Andy Webster, Founder and Director, Workr Compliance, on 07827 810851 or at aw@workrgroup.com.

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Thinking Of Going Freelance? 5 Questions You Need To Answer

It’s no secret that since the start of the pandemic, everyone’s way of working has been turned upside down. For many, it was a positive change, and the longer they operated remotely, the more they wanted to make it permanent. As a result, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of freelancers in the UK.

Becoming self-employed or starting your own business can be a great career move. You get to choose when you work, how much you charge, and the type of projects you take on. But, before you hand in your notice and go it alone, there are other things to think about.

Here, Workr Practice Manager and freelance specialist, Nina Lasota-Long, provides answers to five questions that you might not have considered. Read on to find out more…

1. Should I operate as a sole trader or a limited company? 

When it comes to deciding between going self-employed or operating as a limited company, there are pros and cons to each. 

Being a sole trader is viewed as the simpler and more straightforward way of going freelance. It’s ideal for short-term work or smaller projects, and the cost of accounting is much cheaper. That being said, you’ll need to complete an annual self-assessment and pay tax on your profits. There’s also no legal protection, so your personal assets are at risk.

You might find that some clients will only work with limited companies, and that operating as such adds more prestige to your business. You’ll get greater tax savings compared to self-employed individuals, and obtain more tax efficiencies as your earnings grow. There’s also limited liability, so the company is its own legal entity. But, there’ll be higher accountancy fees as a result of increased obligations.

2. How much do I charge?

Predicting the length of a project isn’t easy, so unless time is guaranteed, it’s wise to charge a fixed price. Once a fee is agreed, deadlines become flexible, preventing the client from asking for a discount if you finish the task early.

What exactly that price is, depends on how much you think your talent is worth. But don’t forget to cover your costs, as there’s a number of things you don’t get paid for, including: 

  • Holidays
  • Sickness
  • Equipment
  • Insurance
  • Quiet periods
  • Pension
  • Bills
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Accountancy

Many clients will push for a bargain, but don’t take it personally. Going in cheap devalues your services and the rest of your industry, so bide your time and reap the rewards. Be sure to do some competitor research too, so you know you’re not charging over or under the average rate.

If you’re still struggling to put a price on your services, rate of pay calculators are a handy way to get started.

3. Will I be able to get a mortgage?

Regardless of success, lenders are likely to view those in full-time employment as a safer bet, and 21% of freelancers have actually reconsidered their job because of it. 

Rejected applications appear on your credit history, so preparation is vital. Here’s a few tips to help you with the mortgage process:

  • Understand your income – Mortgage lenders average out earnings, so you’ll need at least two years of accounts, ideally with a consistent or increasing profit.
  • Use an accountant – This will help you plot out your finances and plan for a mortgage application.
  • Avoid gaps in projects – Lenders like consistent patterns of income, so minimise significant gaps among your holidays.
  • Complete self-assessment tax returns – These are evidence of your earnings and lenders will request at least three years of calculations.
  • Check your credit history – Look for errors and make sure it correctly reflects your finances.
  • Build up a bigger deposit – The more you can offer, the higher your chances of acceptance.
  • Look for a specialist lender – These are experts in your employment type who’ll be more willing to consider you.

4. Can I freelance internationally?

The number of UK freelancers is going up, and as a result, many are widening their search and looking abroad for additional work. But if you’re thinking of taking on projects from clients in other countries, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Hire an international solicitor to draw up a contract and help you navigate the different legal restrictions.
  • Quote in the local currency, and make the client aware of their responsibility for international transfer fees.
  • Check your professional indemnity insurance covers your client’s country.
  • Use TransferWise. This provides you with bank credentials aligned with the client’s country, giving you better exchange rates.
  • Prioritise work around time zones. Use the mornings for clients ahead of your time and the afternoons for those behind to maximise crossover periods.
  • Check the tax situation in that country, and avoid paying income tax twice with a tax exemption form or Residency Certificate for your limited company.

There’s also a handy website you can visit for the opportunity to find international work and advertise your own talents.

5. What’s the best accounting software?

As the world becomes increasingly digitised, so should your business. Sending Excel spreadsheets to your accountant at the end of each year is a thing of the past. With modern accounting software, you can store invoices and expenses, and get real-time information about your performance.

Freelance Workr provide clients with a FreeAgent account to run your business from. We also use it to help you make important decisions, prepare your accounts, and complete VAT returns – leaving you to focus on the rest of your work.

Support from Workr

If you’re ready to take the next step in your freelance career, speak to Workr. Whether you’re setting up a limited company or becoming a sole trader, we can ensure you select the best option for your business.

Our team are also on hand to help you understand your earnings and estimate your weekly take-home pay. And, we offer expert advice, guidance, and access to a specialist mortgage advisor so you’re best placed to submit your application.Want to find out more? Visit our website or contact Practice Manager and freelance specialist Nina Lasota-Long at nina@freelanceworkr.com.

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Get access to global talent without the headache of payroll

With over 13 years experience, working in and around the recruitment industry, Adam Mommsen has helped lead the charge in encouraging agencies to tap into the international market. His finger firmly on the industry’s pulse, Workr’s head of sales for London has collaborated with businesses to support the handling of all manner of trends, from temporary staff to umbrella solutions.

But now, with IR35 reform, Brexit and work-from-home policies reshaping employment as we know it, it’s never been more important to consider overseas recruitment.

So we’ve asked Adam to walk us through his experience, and explain how it led him to offer support to agencies looking for a bigger audience.

What’s been the biggest change over the past 10 years?

Time, people seem to have less of it these days. You’d think maybe IR35 reform or Brexit, caused this shift, but it actually came with the introduction of online platforms such as LinkedIn.

Today, candidates are less likely to interact over the phone. The practice of recruiters working late to cold call is slowly dying out. Instead, they focus on contacting people where it suits them.

As a result, the reputation of recruitment is changing, and with it, the kinds of clients and candidates we work with. This is leading to an explosion of small niche agencies offering a 360-degree service, where the owners understand the market and place individuals in temporary or long-term roles around the world.

Why international recruitment?

During the pandemic, UK recruitment became one of the most competitive spaces for roles. Limiting your support to talent and positions nationwide meant missing out on a wealth of opportunities in the likes of the US, Europe and, for jobs in energy, locations like the North Sea.

Clients value the service as it allows them to widen their talent pool and navigate around inflated UK salaries. And with home working being adopted internationally, it makes no difference whether their team is based locally or in another country. For the contractor, not only are they rewarded with a new culture, they also won’t be charged the payroll costs of working a temporary position in the UK.

From my perspective, after many years focusing on the UK, the crossover to the international market has been refreshing. I don’t understand why more agencies don’t place globally. If you can recruit individuals in London, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same for New York.

What are the challenges?

If a contractor is working for a business abroad, they’ll need to be paid according to their new employer’s tax laws. This means the recruiter who places them will have to decipher these new laws in order to be compliant.

Of course, if you’re an agency with a substantial number of contractors working for you, you could have a whole host of placements under different taxation laws.

For agencies just branching out into international recruitment, this level of accounting is impossible. But there is another way…

How do you help agencies overcome these challenges?

At Workr, our accountants excel in breaking down the tax law of other countries and simplifying your payment processes.

Supporting clients in over 100 countries, our payroll service takes the burden of staying compliant off your shoulders. This way, you enrich your service, while we handle everything concerning your contractors’ pay.

What do you predict will be the next big change in recruitment?

Working from home is currently advantageous to a number of contractors, but it’ll soon level the playing field in terms of salary. Those working from home in London are exceptionally more expensive than the same level of skilled candidates in South Africa.

As more agencies embrace international recruitment, it’ll be harder to justify paying higher wages to staff simply because they live locally to the business. How this relationship plays out in both permanent and temporary work will set the tone for the phase of recruitment.

Similarly, I think we’ll continue to see a rise in small niche agencies. Especially as city centre office space is no longer a requirement for a recruitment firm. What’s more, many functions of the business like payroll, compliance, HR, and credit control can now be outsourced, negating the assault start-up costs some companies have experienced in the past.

In the meantime, Workr are here to help agencies access untapped talent and enhance their service to clients. So if you’re interested in leveraging our expertise, get in touch on adamm@workrgroup.com.

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What Your Recruitment Agency Needs To Know About Post-Brexit Europe

Placing UK workers in Europe was once a relatively straightforward exercise. Navigating different tax laws and general formalities aside, it was merely an extension of the norm – and a great opportunity for more business. But on 1st January 2021, all that changed.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the effects of post-Brexit immigration laws have been masked. And with overseas placements on the back burner, most agencies haven’t experienced the true extent of the changes. Now, as the mist of the pandemic slowly begins to fade, business travel is back – but not as we knew it.

In this article, we’ll look at how the goal posts have shifted for European work placements. We’ll also discuss the new areas that recruitment agencies need to consider, and what action you should take to keep end clients on side while remaining compliant.

A new playing field

Post-Brexit immgration laws brought about considerable challenges for recruiters looking to place UK workers in overseas roles. Some EU countries have closed their doors entirely, regardless of relevant documentation. But for those who haven’t, contractors and candidates may require new papers such as work permits, visas and other permissions. Take Germany for example, they can sponsor a work permit, but it will cost approximately double the pre-Brexit fee.

Gone are the days where hopping to and from the continent was a simple affair. Without the right preparations in place, a typical 3 to 12-month placement could leave you and your contractor open to fire from the tax office. So, if you want to avoid a nasty sting, you’ll need to get ahead of the game and find out the specific requirements of the country you’re working with.

Assessing challenges and risk prevention

EU countries know exactly what to look for amidst the changes, and will be able to spot any low-hanging fruit. Unless you’re liaising with a large international company who’ll take care of the finer details, the responsibility will be down to you – the recruiter.

This makes it vital to accurately scope and build extra costs and requirements into the pricing as early as possible. Failure to add these expenses to the end client’s quote will lead to eroded margins, or perhaps a temptation to cut corners to get a deal over the line. It could even result in the deal falling apart completely.  

Although you may be trying to prevent hard work from going to waste, bending the rules ends with toxic contractor books and the risk of deportation, fines and possibly future travel bans. While it’s vital you stay true to your remit and make sure your contractors have a right to work, it’s just as important that you incorporate the extra costs to avoid your agency being in a disadvantaged position.

We can help

Have you got European roles on the horizon? If you’re considering UK workers, don’t fall foul to post-Brexit legislation – contact Workr International. We’ll line up all the relevant information, calculated and costed to precision, so you can work this into your initial quote. With a wealth of experience in global overseas compliance, our experts know exactly where and what to look for. 

If you want to ensure you’re meeting new requirements while maintaining business in a changing European landscape, book in a call today. We’ll be in touch soon.  

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