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Frequently Asked Questions

So your recruitment agency, or a friend, have pointed you in either of two directions: working with an umbrella company or setting up a limited company. Either option provides its benefits, but you’re here to hear about umbrellas.

In a nutshell, an umbrella company is a payroll provider for contractors, so they act as your employer, process your wages, and offer additional support such as administration. It means you can work between different contracts and they handle your admin and payroll, so your activities are focused on finishing and finding more work. So, that’s it.

There are plenty of reasons to set up shop with an umbrella company, and their ease of use when working is probably the main one. Here are a few of the main benefits you gain working under an umbrella company:

  1. Payroll:– They take care of your payroll services, meaning they make sure you’re paid on time.
  2. Taxes:– They manage your and National Insurance Contributions (NIC), so your time is freed up from taking care of your paperwork, and you might not be in a position to properly handle your own.
  3. Admin:– They provide admin support, so all of those additional tasks that take up so much time, they’re handled by your umbrella.
  4. Starting Capital: – Not as much starting capital is needed, so this frees up extra money which you can invest in your business.

So, you’ve thought about making that important decision: choosing which umbrella is best for you. It can be a difficult task, we get it, mainly because you need to consider so much before making that big leap. However, it doesn’t need to be that difficult. You need to narrow down the factors that influence your choice, and then find umbrella companies based on your preferences.

So, here’s some key factors that might influence you, then go ahead and compare umbrellas here and get an immediate result. We only work with the UK’s leading compliant umbrellas, and 100s of them, so compare your options now.

  • Additional Fees: – Keep an eye out for hidden fees, and although most will claim to have none, just make sure you check before committing to one. Most charge on a weekly or monthly basis, so see what they’re offering in comparison.
  • Insurances: – What insurance packages do they offer, if any? We only work with compliant umbrella companies, and they offer insurances, but umbrellas will vary, so check out what insurances are on offer, although all are required to have Employer Liability Cover.
  • Expenses: – HMRC have limited what expenses you can claim, so be wary of umbrellas claiming all sorts of additional expenses, although you are still eligible for some, so have a read about their expenses policies.
  • Payments: – Make sure you understand how you’re getting paid, so you can set out your timeframes for payments and understand what payment systems they’re using.
  • Pensions : – Does a contractor pension interest you? It’s something to think about, and some umbrellas have auto-enrolment for their pension schemes, which comes in handy later in life, and you might see some significant tax advantages along with it.

There’s a reason setting up a limited company is such a popular option in the UK, because it’s a separate legal entity, which means its separate from its company directors, members and shareholders, so your liability is limited if the company were to face legal action or other such issues. They can be set up in 24 hours, but you still need to manage your payroll and administration, so that’s why many contractors use umbrella company services to manage both their payroll and administration, so they can get on with the job.

Establishing a limited company is a popular option for contractors because it provides tax advantages and gives you the freedom of being your boss, so you can see why it’s so popular. As a shareholder, you draw your income from the company in dividends, and these are not deductible under National Insurance Contributions (NIC), however, they are taxable, but the first £2000 is tax-free. If you like, you can divide your dividends with a spouse, which means you can both maximise your tax-free allowance.

As a contractor, you’re still subject to tax, so there are three tax models when working with umbrella companies, whether you’re working as an employee of that umbrella company or outsourcing your admin and payroll from your limited company.

  1. Mileage Expenses: – If you pass the SDC test, you can claim work-related mileage via your payslips. This means you could claim the same expenses which was the practice before the 2016 Finance Act, however, any expenses unrelated to work might be paid on an annual basis, rather than monthly, which can affect some contractors.
  2. Payroll Model: – If you’re not travelling or insuring many additional expenses which are work-related, this might be ideal for you. It’s up to you, but the payroll model means tax relief claims are unnecessary, and you will also have no need to complete the SDC tests.
  3. Fixed Expenses: – If your expenses do not vary from month to month, having a fixed model might work for you. You won’t be subject to SDC tests, and as your expenses don’t change, your payments won’t vary when taking into account fluctuations, because there are none.