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Four Things Every Contractor Knows To Be True

Life as an engineering contractor comes with its ups and downs. For every stretch away from your family there is a degree of flexibility and a sense of teamwork and camaraderie, all combining to make the life of a contractor particularly unique. It’s a rocky terrain, with many peaks and troughs that only fellow contractors can really understand.

In honour of that most special of bonds, we’ve compiled a list of the 4 things every contractor knows to be true

1.       Everyone thinks you have just LOADS of free time

Okay, so you may not necessarily work 9 to 5 and maybe you get two weeks of rest time if you’re working on a rig, and that certainly has its bonuses.  That’s what the majority of non-contractors focus on all the time, but it isn’t where the story ends.

Anyone who has worked on an oil and gas rig or on a major construction site knows what a 12 hour shift feels like, or the tedium of not seeing your friends and family for a number of weeks at a time. So yeah, a longer run of time off has its distinct benefits, but hard work and long hours pay for that flexibility.

2.       Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

And what do people imagine you’re doing with all that fictional free time you have on your hands? Relaxing with a spot of gardening? Cracking in to that book you’ve been dying to read? Yeah, maybe not. Try a stack of paperwork instead!

If you’re a freelancer you’ll know that there is always paperwork in which significant time must be invested. Whether it’s at the start of a new project, or some nice tax forms to sift through, there are always contracts to be reviewed and assessed.  Who would have thought the difference between ‘of services’ and ‘for services’ would become such a key preoccupation?

3.       Friends are the family you choose

The experience of freelancing or working as a contractor has the benefit of being able to meet and work with lots of people. The bonus of project based work is the camaraderie that is often established when a group of different personalities are thrown together with one common goal.

If you’re working away on a project, it’s likely you’re going to spend the best part of 24 hours a day, every day, for 2-3 weeks at a time with the same group of people. Meal times, time spent working and leisure time – you’re going to get to know the people around you pretty fast.  Sometimes this can highlight annoying habits, but it can also lead to a bond of shared experience that’s hard to break.

4.       There’s nothing like a pint at the end of a tough shift

When it comes to the crunch and there’s a looming deadline, a tight turnaround or an emergency task, noses get to the grindstone and the work gets done. That’s what contractors are hired for, to bring their expert skills and specialist knowledge to tough and demanding work.

But one thing all contractors know is that a crisp, cool pint after the hard work is over, whether you’re coming back onshore or you’ve put the finishing touches to a construction job, is a fine reward. There really is nothing like a pint at the end of a tough shift.

Do you agree with our list of list of contracting truths? What parts of your life as a contractor do you absolutely love? And what do you find is often misunderstood? Tell us in the comments below!

One thing you don’t have to worry about as a contractor is having a fully comprehensive, freelance insurance policy that includes Professional Indemnity, Public Liability and Employers Liability cover. We have designed our core insurance product exclusively for the potential risks of freelance contracting. Five different covers are all combined in to one policy and covered by our price promise. Call our friendly, professional team at KPSol on 0124 236 2149 and we will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, apply online to get cover instantly.

Five Dangerous Places to Work In The Oil and Gas Industry

Without a doubt, the oil and gas industry is one of the most important and lucrative industries in the world. It is a commodity we all rely on, and securing the production and global transportation of oil is never far from the top of the international diplomatic agenda.

It is precisely the level of importance that we place on gas and oil that makes the industry one fraught with tension and inherent risk. From unstable political environments, declining economies and kidnap risks, we took a look at five of the most dangerous places to work in oil and gas.

1.       Iraq

Oil rich and politically volatile, even over ten years since the US invasion Iraq presents danger to oil and gas industry workers. Kidnapping is a real threat in Iraq, with the country’s own Deputy Oil Minister having been kidnapped in 2007. With the rise of jihadist group ISIS in recent months, there seems to be little indication that tensions in the region are dissipating.

2.       Colombia

Colombia became an oil exporter in the 1980s, but has been subject to right-wing paramilitary group abuses for a number of decades. Controlling most of the illegal cocaine trade throughout the country, paramilitary forces are reported to be responsible for massacres, rapes and kidnappings throughout the country.

3.       Tanzania

The east African nation has significantly developed its oil and gas exploration efforts in the natural reserves off the country’s south coast. However, piracy has become a significant issue in the area, with Somali pirate activity on the increase in the country’s waters over the last five years, some of which has directly targeted petroleum exploration efforts.

4.       Venezuela

Venezuela has one of largest proven oil reserves in the world and is one of the major exporters of oil, travelling as far and wide as China and India.  Violence is rife in Venezuela, with carjacking, kidnapping and armed robberies occurring with alarming regularity. Venezuela also sees a high amount of drug trafficking activity, with much of neighbouring Colombia’s illegal cocaine trade passing through the country.

5.       Libya

Having the largest oil reserves in Africa, Libya is an attractive proposition due to its proximity to Europe. However, escalating violence throughout the country following the 2011 civil war that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, including the attack on the US embassy in 2012 and the recent unrest that saw armed groups try to seize control of the country’s airports; Libya appears to be rife with conflict.

Do you have any experience as a contractor travelling to any of these, or other, high risk locations?  How do you prepare and do you have any advice or tips for other contractors who may be considering taking on contracts in dangerous locations?

Tell us about your experiences via the comments box.

 

If an engineer ruled the world…

Humans. We’re logical creatures, aren’t we? Think of how far we have advanced past our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. We’ve built sprawling metropolises, plunged to the depths of the ocean, and we’ve even put a man on the moon.

But that’s only half the story, isn’t it? We’re not the rational, logical beings we often believe ourselves to be. How do we account for butter that won’t spread, toast that burns on one side and the ends of sellotape sticking together? So much of the world is irrationally thought out, rushed and well, mildly irritating. This got us wondering exactly what kind of utopia of efficiency and design we would live in if an engineer was running the show.

1.       If you’re not part of the solution…

From engineering tube trains to space stations, from wireless communication to sleek smart phones that house a whole building’s worth of capabilities, engineers are solution-focused individuals. Finding elegance in the mix of design and functionality, an engineer who ruled the world would never settle for ‘good enough’.

2.       The light bulb that never breaks

Let’s face it, no engineer on the face of the planet would design and create something so necessary to modern life that breaks every few months. The urge to create and perfect would lead to a revolution in how we see everyday commodities. Rather than creating goods that break in order to increase demand, an engineer would focus on creating the perfect, elegantly designed version of – well, pretty much anything.

3.       ROBOTS!

You can’t look me in the eye and say that robots wouldn’t be advancing in every corner of this earth if an engineer was in charge. The World Cup? Forget about it, International Robot Wars would be what we tune in to every four years… and how much more exciting would that be?!?

4.       Lots of bridges – just because!

If you could build a bridge, you would, right? From the Romans and their aqueducts right through to the sleek modernity of The Millennium Bridge, everyone loves a good bridge and nobody more so that the people with the ability to create them – engineers!

5.       Curiosity thrilled the cat

The world is still so full of mystery, with so much left still to discover, if an engineer ran the world we’re sure that curiosity would be the highest praised quality anyone could have – the desire to continuously learn, push limits and expand horizons would be a cultural norm. Smart really would be the new sexy! Let’s be honest, if Steve Wozniak hadn’t been a little curious about this computer fad in a California garage in the mid-70’s, Apples would just be another fruit.

Don’t let worries about having the right level of freelance contractor insurance get in the way of your engineering prowess help make the world a better place! Here at KPSol we have created a unique, comprehensive freelance contractor insurance policy that contains five key elements of cover, including Public Liability, Professional Indemnity and Employers’ Liability cover.

If you want access to one of the most comprehensive, single policy contractor insurance then apply online now to purchase cover immediately. If you wish to speak with one of our highly trained team to further discuss your requirements then do not hesitate to call us on 01242 362 149 where one of our customer advisors will be on hand to help.

Five Of The Best LinkedIn Groups For Engineering Contractors

LinkedIn is an indispensable tool for any professional, giving you the ability to introduce your CV and career goals to the world of social media. This is especially true for freelance engineers, as LinkedIn can provide a space in the vast world of social media for a contractor to advertise their skills when looking for freelance opportunities.

However, the importance of LinkedIn has come to be about far more than having just a personal page. Focusing on the networking aspect of this professional social media platform is how you can use LinkedIn to stand out. Participation in LinkedIn groups is the perfect way for freelance engineers to showcase their skill set, participate in industry discussions and catch the attention of potential recruiters.

In view of this, we’ve collected a list of the best LinkedIn groups for engineers to join, to give you a headstart on the path to becoming a savvy LinkedIn user and learning how to leverage its inherent opportunities.

1.       Oil & Gas People

With over 300,000 members, this international group is set up for anyone working in the oil and gas industry. Featuring discussions on the latest news and trends in the industry as well as highlighted job opportunities, this LinkedIn group is a great resource for any contractor working in the oil and gas industry.

2.       Freelance Engineers UK

A great general group for freelance engineers in almost any discipline, including civil, structural, marine or geotechnical, this group provides a place for freelancers to find job opportunities and to discuss issues affecting freelancers such as interview tips and expenses.

3.       Engineering Jobs Worldwide

With close to 400,000 members, this is the LinkedIn group for nearly any engineer looking for jobs on an international scale. From mechanical, electronic and chemical to marine, environmental and civil anyone in the world of engineering would benefit from investigating the opportunities present in this group.

4.       Network Engineer Professionals

This group is one for all of the IT professionals. Whether you’re a professional network engineer or work in IT support this is the group for you. Very active and with over 48,000 members this is a great source of information for fellow IT and communication engineer professionals.

5.       The UK Construction & Civil Engineering Group

Designed as a forum in which civil engineering professionals can discuss the latest advancements and changes to the industry, this group features discussions on best practice, invitations to bid on upcoming projects and international industry news.

Have you used LinkedIn, or other social media platforms, to any great success in securing freelance job opportunities, or connecting with other professionals? Let us know in the comments below.

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If you choose KPSol as your insurance broker you will benefit from an A-rated insurer, a combined policy with few exclusions and instant access to your documents. If you’re interested in getting a quote then apply online now or call our friendly, UK based team to further discuss your requirements on 0124 362 149.

News Round Up: the latest contracting news from around the web

See below for our latest round up of contracting news from all over the internet.

Report finds majority of contractors want to work abroad

Energy Global reports this week that over three quarters of contractors surveyed by international recruiter Procorre said that they would like to work abroad. Higher take home pay and a better work-life balance were revealed as the main reasons why 77% contractors wish to relocate for work. However, high levels of red tape, such as acquiring work permits and security concerns over dangerous locations were cited as the main blocks to actually making the move.

Read more…

New network established to attract women to oil and gas industry

Senior figures in the oil and gas industry have formed a new network aimed at persuading a greater number of women to establish their careers in the industry. Herald Scotland writes that the new initiative, named the AXIS Network, aims to raise awareness of blocks to women entering the industry and to address how women can help solve the impending skills shortage currently threatening the industry.

Read more…

Rebrand for Professional Contractors Group

Freelancer membership organisation Professional Contractors Group (PCG) has announced it is rebranding in to the Association of Independent Professionals and Self-Employed (IPSE). Contractor Calculator reports that the move is intended broaden the scope of the organisation’s membership to include a greater number of self-employed and sole traders as part of their community.

Read more…

Report claims up to £1 trillion in oil and gas in Scotland’s water

The Scotsman reported this week that a study, conducted by oil and gas recruitment specialist oilandgaspeople.com, found that there could be up to a trillion pounds of oil and gas reserves still left in Scotland’s water. Industry experts have disputed this number, saying geological conditions make these reserved harder to extract. The question lingers as to whether oil and gas reserves could be an independent Scotland’s economic saviour.

Read more…

Mind the Gap – does engineering have female trouble?

Sir James Dyson, of the eponymous vacuum empire and all-round British engineering national treasure, recently wrote an opinion piece for The Telegraph about the engineering skills crisis the UK is currently facing. In it he deals specifically with the fact that the country’s young women are still not entering the science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) industries to the same degree young men are.

Summer is the time that both the A-Level and GCSE results are released; whereby thousands of 16 to 18 year olds find out in which direction their future is headed. It’s an exciting and tense time where careers and lives are forged in the furnace of our current education system and much ink has been spilled on the fact that young women, when choosing their post-secondary school education, are less inclined toward STEM subjects.

But why is this? If we are seeing a dramatic shortage in engineers, putting our economy, and our ability to create, in jeopardy then why is such a large portion of our workforce not motivated to join the weird and wonderful world of engineering?

In Dyson’s article he cites recent comments made by University of Glasgow psychology reader Dr Gijsbert Stoet. Stoet believes that the push toward generating more female engineers, physicists and computer scientists is a futile pursuit due to insurmountable, ‘innate differences’ between the genders. He contends that women are natural carers and are drawn to careers in the arts, while boys are better suited to the sciences and mathematics.

Isn’t Stoet just reinforcing unhelpful gender stereotypes? If we keep saying that women are ‘naturally’ less interested in scientific subjects and subsequent careers, then surely this is destined to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why would we choose to ignore this untapped wealth of potential?

There have been a number of studies conducted, including the Through Both Eyes report by grassroots organisation Science Grrl in 2013, that suggest that there is a long-standing cultural perception that the world of science and engineering is the domain of men and there are simply no places for women. This extends to attitudes in the home, at school and from wider society in general.

The report cites the long held and factually inaccurate idea that women’s brains are somehow unable to process factual, scientific information in the same way as men factors as a particularly damaging stereotype. There is also some concern that accurate, gender-aware but gender-neutral career guidance is not widely available on the vocational pathways down which STEM subjects can lead.

It is clear from recent reports that British engineering is under threat and the country is at risk of losing a generation of creative, technical and innovative minds. It would seem that deeply embedded societal messages about the ‘traditional’ roles that women are expected to fulfil is seriously damaging the attempt to engage intelligent young women in education to reach their full potential in the STEM industries.

If the reported figures, that the percentage of female A-Level physics students has remained a consistently low 20% for the last 20 years, then we are doing a huge disservice to young women, and the great tradition of British engineering, by allowing culturally engrained stereotypes to keep women distanced from careers in science, engineering and technology. It is clear that if we want to win the battle against outmoded thinking, quell our fear about the growing skills shortage and boost our economy then we must start to empower young women and provide them with a real choice, before it’s too late.

Are you a woman in engineering? Have you faced any blocks, culturally or institutionally, to your career in your chosen industry? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below!

Fracking Opponents – Justified or Misinformed?

David Cameron has recently announced his support of Fracking in the UK, yet there are still many protests taking place at proposed Fracking sites in the UK (the highly publicised protests at Barton Moss being just one example). These protestors have serious concerns about the effects of Fracking on the environment and the the way it could impact the lives of those living near to the proposed sites. So, what are the specific concerns and are they founded in truth, science or experience? Here we take a look at some of the worries and how seriously you should be taking them.

Wear from drilling operations

Currently wear on well casing from the fracking process is a problem that does need solving. Not only does the wear on the casing cause higher costs around the need for replacement or fixing but it can also be a contributory factor in any water and ground contamination that may occur.

There are suggestions and reports that a new way of managing the casing on the wells could prevent such contamination. The new suggestion is using cement to prevent the risk of contamination. Currently in America, cement is used to fill the gap in freshly drilled gas wells between the earth and the casing which is supposed to fill any cracks which would allow contamination to occur. However for it to be effective it must fill the entire space surrounding the well, from top to bottom, it is also important for workers to wait at least 8 hours for the cement to harden.

The issue is that often workers will not wait or will not pump enough cement to coat the well which has been attributed to cost saving measures.  This is possibly due to a lack of experience in the field (which we’ll cover next) and can lead to cracks forming in the cement and therefore contamination.

Lack of experience or expertise

There are other worries that those working, or planning to work on fracking sites in the UK may not be prepared or experienced enough at the scale that the operation requires. When this lack of experience happens the consequences can lead to other issues, such as those mentioned above.

This is obviously a problem with an easy answer, training and strict measures on site will ensure that contamination fears are quashed. That said, regulation and legislation remain a large area of concern among those opposing fracking in the UK.

Water contamination

We mentioned this earlier and how it can occur and there are obvious reasons for those living around potential fracking site to be concerned.  Many iof these concerns can seem justified by the fracking industry in the US where 6% of wells in a Pennsylvania region have sprung, and reported some sort of leak.

Leaks are potentially very hazardous as carcinogenic chemicals are used in the extraction process and allowing them into groundwater can affect wildlife and nearby water supplies.

The contamination to the supply can cause long term health problems for those exposed. Surveys on the chemicals used have shown damage to skin, sensory organs and in more extreme cases, effects on the brain and cardiovascular harm.

More work still needs to be done to see the definitive effects of Fracking on human health as well as environmental health, but with increased regulation and training, again this is something which can be addressed.

Environmental costs – large amounts of water use

There’s no denying that the large amount of water used in the fracking process can have a great environmental impact. For each well millions of gallons of water is used and obviously transporting such a large amount of water to a site will have significant environmental impact, especially from emissions, and will also put a large strain on local resources.  The counter argument is that the natural gas that is extracted has a far lower carbon footprint as an energy source than oil or fossil fuels which far outweighs the environmental impact the extraction process may have.

Tremors

One of the most well documented and publicised worries surrounding fracking is the risk of tremors or earthquakes. Some recent tremors have been attributed to nearby fracking sites, which scientists call ‘induced seismic events’.  Although  an increase in the amount of Fracking could lead to an increase of tremors, most earthquakes do only measure as small magnitudes on the scale.

Regulation

There have been previous worries that regulation of the fracking industry in the UK had been outdated and that new legislation was needed to make sure fracking was safe and that appropriate steps were being taken to minimise any issues such as leaks.

With regulations in place to ensure a safer practice this will not be an issue in the future and will in turn lead to less risk of environmental damage. Parliament are looking into new terms for regulation for the onshore oil and gas industry which should help implement best operational practice.

 

Sources: http://www.wearepowershift.org/blogs/cement-fracking-solution, http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/hydrofracking_w.html, https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CHIQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.parliament.uk%2Fbriefing-papers%2Fsn06073.pdf&ei=eJJWU9-EIfGT0QWniYHYBA&usg=AFQjCNEhFud3UZQwOgaejL-C96qG9g0DSg&sig2=20ZgtBZSRCw7KqHOoLsrRQ&bvm=bv.65177938,d.d2k

False Self-Employment Legislation For Recruiters

We’ve already looked at the new legislation regarding false self-employment and how it could affect contractors but we thought we’d also give an insight into the potential impact on those recruitment agencies that will now have to deal with worker compliance.

As we said previously:

“The legislation HMRC plans to put in place will implement a new way to check up on sole traders and contractors. The plans mean that the matter of compliance passes hands to the recruitment agency rather than the intermediary (as mentioned above); this is because the agencies converse directly with clients and have more influence over how the worker is paid.”

How a recruitment firm is affected depends entirely on their interaction with contractors, freelancers and the self-employed.  Effectively, recruitment agencies placing contractors onto assignments will now be responsible for compliance matters relating to the tax and NI contributions made by their freelancers and contractors. Agencies will now have to be more vigilant when putting contractors in for client work and will have to consider various criteria in order to remain compliant.  First, will the worker be under supervision, control or direction as to the way they work? Is the worker providing their services personally? Is the worker remunerated for providing their services? (one man limited companies are exempt) Finally, is the pay already taxed as employment income?

Here’s a more in-depth look at the criteria from Brookson:

Is the worker subject to (or does the client have the right of) control, supervision or direction as to the manner in which duties are carried out (this test is not defined in legislation and has very little case law interpreting it and so is hard to disprove).  HMRC’s opening position is that all workers will be subject to control and it is the responsibility of the recruitment agency to prove otherwise.

Is the worker providing their services personally (this will always be the case).

Is the worker remunerated as a consequence of providing their services (this applies if the individual receives payment directly linked to the work they do).  HMRC have confirmed that one man limited companies (PSCs) are excluded from this legislation providing the worker is a director and or shareholder of the company and remunerates themself by way of salary and/or dividends.

Is the remuneration not already taxed as employment income (this means that if the worker is employed by the agency or an umbrella company and their pay is subject to PAYE then the legislation will not apply).

So, if all of these conditions are met by the recruitment agency then they must take control of deducting tax and paying National Insurance for all of the payments for their worker’s services. Also to be aware of is the proposed statutory returns and record keeping requirement which needed to be in place since April 6th 2014, though the first return is not to be made until November 1st 2014.

HMRC will be challenging agencies which continue to use self-employment providers who claim to have circumvented legislation by using Managed service company legislation.

To sum up, Recruitment agencies will need to be aware how their contract workers are being paid, which will require vigilant monitoring. This will make preferred supplier lists even more important to them; so they understand who they are working with.

Those that remain risk free for the recruitment agency in terms of tax and National Insurance liability are contractors employed directly by the agency and paid by PAYE, those employed by a compliant umbrella company that pays them employment income and also those engaged via their own limited company which pays them a salary.

If the contractor is in contact with anyone in the supply chain on a contract for their services then recruitment agencies really need to consider the action they will take as in this situation they would be liable for PAYE if HMRC’s assumption that the worker is controlled cannot be disproven.

False Self-Employment Legislation For Contractors

The Finance Bill 2014 has now been published, setting in motion the changes to tax law which were announced in 2013.

As you’d expect with any new HMRC legislation, there’s been significant concern and confusion around one particular element, the new False Self-Employment legislation.  Aimed at specific sectors within the contracting industry it’s still under scrutiny from industry professionals.  Not all contractors will be affected but it is worthwhile being aware of the changes in case of any tweaks to the draft.

Why is it happening?

HMRC are concerned that there are a growing number of workers operating as self-employed or as a sole trader who may, in fact, be ‘disguised employees’, sometimes hidden by intermediary companies, who are either incorrectly listed as freelance or are purposely listed that way to avoid the correct taxation. They also believe that many of these sole traders aren’t completing income tax forms and so aren’t being taxed the right amount or in some cases aren’t paying any tax or NI at all.

Also it’s worth noting that in recent years there has been a rise in the number of ‘intermediary’ companies which act as middle men between the worker and the recruitment agency. These intermediaries have previously been bearing the PAYE risk but managing it with agreed terms with the worker.

What is it?

The legislation HMRC plans to put in place will implement a new way to check up on sole traders and contractors. The plans mean that the matter of compliance passes hands to the recruitment agency rather than the intermediary (as mentioned above); this is because the agencies converse directly with clients and have more influence over how the worker is paid. HMRC will be checking up on intermediaries and looking out for those that are enabling tax avoidance to happen. They have also proposed that a statutory returns and record keeping practice be put in place.

As part of the legislation a TAAR (Targeted Anti Avoidance Rule) will be introduced, The TAAR will be designed to enable HMRC to consider the motive for setting up the employment status arrangements; whether a business is incorporated purely with the motive of avoiding income tax and also whether it achieves the motive of tax being paid or not.

When does it come into practice?

Immediately. Many concerns were raised by stakeholders who worried that the consultation period about the changes was too short a time and that it was being introduced much too quickly. They suggested that it should in fact be implemented in April 2015; however, the government believes that delaying its implementation will allow too much time for new avoidance arrangements to be put in place.

How will it affect me?

Overall, it seems pretty conclusive that limited company freelancers and contractors will not be affected. So if this is you, there is not currently anything to worry about.

Those who will feel the effects are mostly the recruitment agencies that will now have to bear the brunt of any compliance issues with hired workers. It also plans to target intermediaries that supply self-employed workers whilst denying them employment rights and avoiding NI payments. If you are a contractor who is in contact with anyone in a supply chain on a contract for services then you are liable for PAYE as HMRC will presume that you are a controlled worker. It is worth thinking if this is the case for you as you may be affected if you cannot prove that you aren’t a controlled worker.

Another section of those affected will likely be low skilled workers and may not even be aware of their self-employed status. The examples HMRC gave are construction workers, delivery drivers and ‘shelf-stackers’.

What is the industry response?

There are many doubts in the industry that this legislation will have the impact that is expected. There are worries that agencies will be hesitant in placing limited company contractors into work engagements with the changes in place, but hopefully with clear guidance from HMRC this will not be a problem. PCG in particular say that they will be keeping an eye on legislation to make sure that it is not rushed through without proper consideration.

APSCo strongly urged HMRC to consider including the following within the final legislation: statutory guidance on the compliance actions a recruitment firm should take. Statutory defence in the event that they undertake such appropriate compliance checks and a definition of a personal service company (“PSC”).

Following stake holder reactions to the legislation, agencies and other intermediaries will now have until August 2015 to make their first submissions to HMRC, and the definition of ‘intermediary’ will be tightened up to exclude genuine service providers.

The Best Energy Savings Apps And Gadgets For Contractors

With the ever present fluctuation in pricing between the big six energy companies, we decided to take a look at some of the best energy saving gadgets you can use in your home and office.  We’re also reviewing the most useful smartphone apps that will help save you money and lower your carbon footprint.

Apps

GridCarbon

This App is available on iPhone and Android phones/tablets and is extremely useful in lowering your carbon footprint. The app shows graphs which have regularly updated information on demand for electricity through the day. The app ensures you know when to use your electricity during off peak hours, which are determined by the carbon intensity of the supply. The graphs are simply laid out with traffic light themed colours to make it easier to follow. Using your electricity during off-peak hours will significantly lower your carbon footprint.

chargers

Eco charger

Eco Charger gives you a way of keeping tabs on your phone or tablet’s energy, especially when charging, and allows you to increase the length of your battery life as well as saving energy. The app simply notifies you buy way of an alarm when your battery is fully charged.  the alarm will continue to sound until you unplug your device from the charger.

FuelGood

Fuel Good is available on both Android and Apple phones and tablets, and it can help you to save money when using your car. You begin by selecting the make model and year of your car and, based on averages, it will begin to help you save money on fuel consumption. It keeps track of journeys and gives helpful tips on how to make your trips more fuel-efficient. Some reviews say the app is unreliable but it has since been updated, so hopefully stability issues have been fixed.

Standby Energy Cost Calculator

Not exactly a catchy name, but the app gets past that with its usefulness. It can tell you just how much energy you’re wasting by leaving a particular product on standby.

Apps and Gadgets

 

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Nest

The Nest thermostat and app haven’t officially launched yet in the UK but a launch is apparently imminent. The thermostat has a beautiful design and simple interface and secondly is truely innovative.  Once installed it will begin to pick up the habits of the dwellers and when you are in or out of the house and adjust the heating accordingly. The app connects to the thermostat, allowing you to control it from out of the house.  The only issue with this product (apart from it not being released yet!) is that it is a little pricey, but that is fairly understandable being the first wifi enabled thermostat on the market. Conversely, the energy savings are reported to be about 10-25%, so it could be a worthwhile investment. Watch out for this one.

Gadgets

Battery Wizard

The Battery Wizard is a handy recharging gadget that will recharge normal batteries up to ten times. It also recharges rechargeable batteries.  It works with regular AA, AAA, C, D and 9v batteries, so all of the most common types are covered. The device will help you reduce waste, as well as saving you money from its low running costs.

 

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Energy Monitors

Energy monitors come in all shapes, sizes and prices depending on the features. They’ll help to reduce energy costs and  carbon footprint by monitoring which appliances in your home or office are costing you the most money, so you can do something about them. Once you’ve made changes, a monitor will tell you how much money you’re saving.

So there we have it, some great apps and gadgets to help you save energy and money. If you have any suggestions let us know by leaving a comment below or tweeting us @Kingsbridgeprof