Are you being treated lawfully as a contractor? A tale of Network Rail, Employer’s NI & IR35

Network Rail IR35

Another month, another IR35 story but this one isn’t about the rollout to the private sector, but rather public sector organisations allegedly making unlawful deductions from contractors’ fees.

In this case, the public sector body in question is Network Rail, as reported recently by ContractorCalculator. The accusations pertain to two separate contractors who were negotiating contracts with Network Rail in April 2018 and September 2018 respectively.

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I’m a Celebrity…and I’ve been caught by IR35: What lessons can we learn?

IR35

Lorraine Kelly. Christa Ackroyd. Eamonn Holmes. Robert Glenister. Kaye Adams. No, it’s not the latest Strictly line-up. The above TV stars are just the visible few of the potentially large number of well-known names who are likely to have been caught-up in HMRC’s ongoing IR35 crackdown.

As anyone with half on eye on the news will know, some have fared better than others. Lorraine Kelly, or rather ‘Lorraine Kelly’, avoided a substantial fine by claiming that her happy-go-lucky TV persona was just that – a brand, and not a reflection of the real person. Kay Adams was judged to be sufficiently detached from the BBC to be outside IR35. Ackroyd was not. Glenister lost due to a combination of a lack of understanding and flimsy, poorly prepared legal arguments. Holmes’ case is still going through the courts, with £2m of tax at stake.

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Substitution Clauses: What, Why and How

Substitution Clause

One subject that has come up repeatedly in our recent blogs, especially those focusing on IR35 regulations, is the idea of a “substitution clause”. But what exactly is a substitution clause, and why do people keep urging you to have one?

Most contractors and freelancers operate as individuals, taking on projects themselves and seeing them through to completion. However, a substitution clause is a section within your contract that tells your clients of your right to provide an alternate person or persons to carry out the work that you have been contracted to do.

It can be useful if:

  • you’re ill
  • you have a family emergency or other issue
  • you’re on holiday or abroad for another job but you have clients that need looking after
  • you want to temporarily step back from work for some reason

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Grids, Likes, Followers and Connections: Which social media platform suits your contractor style?

Social Media

Despite the hype around social media, there are lots of reasons that contractors might be tempted to avoid it altogether for business use. It takes investment in terms of time and, increasingly, money, as platforms tighten their algorithms to restrict the reach of business posts. It’s easy to get wrong, and it’s hard to do it really well when you don’t have a dedicated social media team in-house. But equally, not using social media could be a wasted opportunity for contractors. Our advice? Use it, but use it smartly. Don’t spread yourself too thin, and target one or two key platforms that best fit the needs of your business and get you in front of the right audience. In this guide we take a look at four of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We’ll look at which platforms are most suitable for which types of content, and the types of client they will allow you to connect with, to help you kickstart your social media strategy.

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Local business groups: getting involved

Business Group

Contracting and freelancing can be a lonely game. It can feel like you’re in a bit of a bubble, isolated from the “real world”, and unable to build up collegial relationships. One valuable way to build up your profile, networks and client base is to get involved with a local business group. The broad benefit of joining a group like this is that ever-present business buzzword: “networking”. There are a wide variety of different relationships you might build and opportunities that you might discover. This blog looks at some of the key benefits to becoming part of a business network as a contractor or freelancer.

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We Love Freelancing

Freelancing

Freelancing sometimes gets a bit of a kicking in the press and on social media. If you listen to the naysayers, it’s exploitative, unstable, unsocial, and insecure. Last month on Twitter, journalist Amelia Tate offered an alternative view, saying that she found freelancing “extremely enjoyable”,  very “lucrative” and that it had had a positive impact on her mental health. Hundreds of freelancers joined in to say exactly what they loved about freelancing – here are just a few of the top reasons freelancers love their jobs.

“I see so much negativity about freelancing + I just want to weigh in for anyone considering it that I personally find it extremely enjoyable + v lucrative + have substantially better mental health than when staff. every experience is diff, but would hate for people to be put off!”Amelia Tate, freelance journalist

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Four-day week – could it work for contractors?

Four-Day Week

May is one of our favourite months here at Kingsbridge. It’s not just the blossom falling from the trees, that first smouldering barbecue of the year, or the thrill of needing to get the suncream out again. There’s also the fact that May treats us to not one but two Bank Holiday Mondays. Of course, for busy contractors and freelancers, sometimes taking a four-day week seems like a luxury only available to those in a steady 9 to 5. However, the chat around the idea of a four-day working week as standard has been hotting up lately. Since its annual conference last September, the TUC (Trades Union Congress) has been consistently calling for a four-day week as a way for employees to share in the benefits of the tech revolution. And research foundation the Wellcome Trust recently announced – and then spectacularly abandoned – a plan to trial a four-day week among its 800 head office staff. All of which got us wondering: is the four-day week a good idea? And could it work for contractors and freelancers? After all, freedom to set your own hours and work flexibly is a major draw to the contractor life for many people.

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Nice try: dubious expenses claims

Expenses

We can’t imagine a job at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is always a barrel of laughs, but we’re sure that these outlandish expenses claims must have raised a few smiles around the office when they came in. Although the new tax year is now in full swing, it’s always a good idea to take a look back through some of the weird, hilarious and just downright cheeky expenses claims that self-employed workers have tried to sneak through the tax system over the past few years.

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Brand Identity: The Basics

Brand Identity

“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business” Steve Forbes, editor of Forbes business magazine

“Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO Amazon

You might think that brand identity is a concern only for big companies, or that, as a small business, you can’t afford to spend a lot of money on flashy marketing. But building a brand identity is all about communicating a consistent message about who you are and what you do, and it needn’t cost any money at all. This blog explores the basics of brand identity for contractors and freelancers and offers some simple principles for building a unified brand around your core asset: you!

As the quotes above tell us, branding isn’t a one-time marketing exercise. Rather, every encounter that a client or potential client has with your business should be considered part of your branding. Every interaction is an opportunity to build a positive relationship, and to communicate your story, values and benefits.

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Five signs that you’re ready for self-employment

Self-Employment

Everything is starting to feel a bit fresher and warmer. But sometimes the signs of spring can make going into the office every day feel like more of a slog. April is a great time to consider your position and decide whether you are ready for your next challenge. Many contractors held “normal” jobs for years before they decided to go it alone and take advantage of the freedom, flexibility, and financial advantages that can come with being self-employed. But how do you know when you’re ready to take the plunge, leave the 9-to-5 and take the reins of your own company? Here are five signs that it might be time for you to go self-employed:

Your reputation precedes you

If you are fighting off calls from headhunters, or if clients, customers or partners of your current employment keep trying to twist your arm into doing some extra bits for them “on the side”, then you should definitely consider giving contracting a go. Your expertise and experience are clearly visible to others and therefore should be easy to market, and you have a pre-existing group of potential clients to target for those precious first few contracts.

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