How Do Freelancers And Contractors Keep In Touch?

Kingsbridge MD, Steve Wynne, tests his reactions at Gastech

It’s been a busy few weeks for KPSol, both in and out of the office.

We’ve been raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness, attending exhibitions and strategy planning for fast approaching 2013.

All of this activity means we’ve been connecting with colleagues, partners and clients more than ever and I’ve been thinking about our Freelancer and Contractor clients who don’t always have the luxury of someone sitting across a desk from them.

So how do Freelancers and Contractors connect with one another?

One sector that appears to be actively encouraging networking amongst its peers is that of the Oil and Gas sector.  What would outwardly appear to be an insular career path is just not so when it comes to Oil and Gas Freelancers and Contractors.  KPSol are regularly invited to attend conferences, events and trade shows within this industry and we were delighted when, on the 8th October, Gastech returned to London after 40 years.

Our stand proved to be a popular installation with the inclusion of a reaction testing machine, used by Formula One teams for driver training.  It wasn’t easy to resist the challenge, as you’ll see from the image of our very own Managing Director, Steve Wynne.

Professor Brian Cox OBE, Research Fellow, Author, Broadcaster, CERN Project & BBC Television had this to say about the conference and exhibition;

“To be able to talk to the people at the cutting edge, you know, you’ve got your people here who are important, influential and employers of people that I and my colleagues in the university sector educate, so for me, that’s a real value.”

However, not all industries hold regular events and what of Freelancers and Contractors working offshore, overseas or those who simply can’t afford to take the time away from their businesses.

Social media is one option but it’s also a hotly debated communication method amongst the business community and this includes Freelancers and Contractors.  One school of thought and the generic advice has been to only connect with those companies that could offer you a contract immediately.  The thinking is that if you are using social media as a marketing tool, then you should only target potential clients and that other connections won’t lead to paid work.

But who knows where your Freelance and Contractor connections could lead?  Today’s entrepreneur may well be the next Steve Jobs or your Freelancer contacts may make the move back into a traditional environment and a position that could provide you with future contracts.

Freelancers have many and varied skills which often complement each other.  Knowing someone you can team up with could make the difference between you winning a contract or not.  Knowing your industry and your peers and keeping a regular dialogue with them also means that you’re first in line when it comes to work referrals.

Of course, like any networking method, relationships take time to develop and if you view social media purely as a method of generating new business you’re likely to become disillusioned fairly rapidly.  But if you’re looking for a way to stay connected to your peers, industry news and for a method of getting a quick and candid opinion, it could well a medium worth exploring.

UK Business News Dominated By Contractor Debate

Debates around Freelancing and Contracting have been headlining in the UK business news over the past fortnight with tensions running high and independent research showing that many Freelancers and Contractors are fast losing confidence in the current government and their seeming lack of support for those working for themselves.

The proposed Controlling Person’s Legislation I mentioned in the 25th September blog entry is causing unease amongst Media and Public Sector Contractors and Freelancers and this seems to have dominated the front pages of the broadsheets this month.

Matchtech, the number one engineering and recruitment company in the UK, have also released the results of a new Confidence Index and it seems that UK engineers are now losing confidence in the government and their policy on engineering.  More than half of those surveyed stated that they’re not confident that their businesses will continue to invest locally and two in five are seriously considering electively working abroad in the next five years.

It’s not easy to see how this debate will be resolved unless there is a dramatic shift in the government’s attitudes towards the Freelancing Community.  The consensus amongst Freelancers and Contractors is that without such a shift we risk seriously damaging this vital sector of UK commerce and industry.

Prompt Payment Code to Benefit Contractors

 

Prompt Payment Code set to improve cash flow for small businesses and contractors;

Are your clients keeping a vice-like grip on your finances?

In tough financial times, cash flow is key and never more so than for freelancers, consultants and contractors.  No matter how successful your business is, the risk of your clients failing to settle invoices on time is ever present.  However, last week, the Forum of Private Business voiced their support for a significant new government scheme which is hosted and administered by the Institute Of Credit Management and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.  The Prompt Payment Code is a voluntary code of conduct to which large companies are being encouraged to sign up.  The pledges are simple and to the point and the code is being heralded as the first concrete proposal to tackle this issue in decades.

But what of the other risks to your livelihood?  Could you afford to pay the legal costs, compensation and even medical bills resulting from a client making a claim against you?  Whether for injury, damage to goods or property or even loss of revenue due to advice and recommendations you have made or actions you have taken, your business and personal finances could be at risk should you be found answerable.

Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom.  KPSol have worked with our clients and government legislation to tailor a complete and affordable package of insurance to protect you and your livelihood and to put you one step ahead of your competition.  By holding our Freelancer Insurance you’re covered.  With one simple policy you’re protected by a comprehensive range of cover, from Professional Indemnity, right down to Personal Accident.  It’s affordable and you can even pay monthly meaning you needn’t skimp on cover, even if your clients haven’t signed up to the Prompt Payment Code Yet.

 

Making Contractor Insurance Easy

Most contractors facing an uphill battle to find work within their specific industry, whether they are trawling through job vacancies or wrestling numerous application forms it is not surprising to find ‘convenience’ at the top of their list when sourcing insurance.
It is quite fair to say that insurance is not the top priority for many contractors, however, many clients or agencies will expect to see verification of not only Professional Indemnity Insurance, but also Employers and Public Liability Insurances. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for the contracts to specify minimum amounts for each policy and if you are not in immediate possession of these, there is no chance of being paid!

Also, a recent report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) showed the ‘engineering’ sector has been the only sector showing increase, month by month, with the chair of REC’s Engineering and Technical division, Philip Higgins stating, “the engineering sector has witnessed a health growth in demand all year and this is accelerating”, meaning that many contractors are showing more flexibility in the industries they are working in, proving further that one of the main benefits of contracting is the flexibility to work where the demand for labour is.

So, with both of these points taken into account, why aren’t insurance companies showing the same trend?

Modern freelance professionals are looking for a quick, convenient insurance package that will cover them for their role as an itinerant contractor and not be dependant on the job title and industry they work in.

With this information, Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance have designed an all-encompassing contractor insurance package, covering the main exposures that a contractor would be subject to. This isn’t a policy where premium is affected by the industry of work or job title, offering clear exclusions and restrictions, the policy eases the worry that contractors have that they may not be covered for any new roles they take on.

Personal Accident Insurance = Peace Of Mind

Personal Accident Insurance

A noteworthy report for all contractors was issued this month highlighting the importance of holding personal accident insurance.  The report confirmed that the self employed were at most risk of financial loss if hospitalised.  Of 400 contractors surveyed, an amazing 72% didn’t have any kind of insurance that would help the financial burden of being unable to work through a workplace accident.

When purchasing insurance cover such as professional indemnity and public liability for their limited company, it is obvious that some contractors neglect the significance of obtaining cover for themselves in the case of accident.

A contractors self employed status means they are likely to have no other person to hold responsible following an accident, but a simple affordable personal accident cover could protect them from the inevitable financial pitfalls.

Experts in freelance insurance, Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance offer a package of insurance which includes personal accident cover that not only insures for accidents that occur at work, but also for any accident that takes place whilst commuting. Kingsbridge offer a weekly benefit of up to £500 whilst recovering from an injury.  In addition to this, lump sum payments are payable for death or permanent disability resulting from an occupational accident.

Recent claims have seen our insurers award weekly payouts to claimants for periods of incapacity from 2 to 12 months, providing £26,000 benefit in the worst case.  Our insurance package provides contractors the peace of mind of having their own cover in the event of a mishap, regardless of the blame. Have you thought about the potential loss?

Could you afford to go for months with no income?

See the detail yourself at www.kingsbridge.co.uk

Don’t get caught out by AWR

AWR

The new Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) will come into force later this year and for those keen to be seen as outside the scope of the regulations focus will return to IR35 tests.

In the draft guidance “the definition of an agency worker excludes those who are in business on their own account”, but simply owning a Limited Company and putting your earnings through it will not be enough to put you beyond the scope of the regulations. Any dispute would require the worker to prove that their circumstances, arrangements and company set up genuinely support their self employed status.

A number of factors can be considered in this regard but it is likely that you will need to demonstrate a number of them to succeed in convincing HMRC. Contractors who take fiscal responsibility for any negligence in their advice and purchase appropriate business insurance will be seen as different to those choosing to rely on indemnity from the end client in the same way as an employee would.

Other factors which could be considered are the purchase of your own business equipment, computer hardware and software together with appropriate licences, personal protective clothing for site visits etc. In addition supporting your own professional development through training, or perhaps subscriptions for membership to a professional body in your chosen field.

All of these things are generally provided for employees but if you rely on them it could support the view that your status is only really in place for job flexibility or tax reasons and it would be likely to lead to additional scrutiny from HMRC.