Kingsbridge preparing recruiters for the IR35 reforms

Industry Insight event_Kingsbridge

On Friday 29th November , Kingsbridge played host to an industry insight event in London designed to prepare recruiters for the 2020 private sector IR35 reforms and launch Kingsbridge’s long anticipated IR35 insurance solutions.

Chaired by Ann Swain, Global CEO of APSCo, the event saw two panels of experts answer questions on the upcoming reforms and what they mean from a recruiter’s perspective. The event was not to be all doom and gloom. Instead it was about exploring solutions and new opportunities, and how Kingsbridge are leading the sector in overcoming the negative reactions to IR35.

Tax & Legal

The day began with the panel discussions. The first panel focused on tax and legal matters and included Andy Vessey (Head of Tax, Larsen Howie), Nicola Hayman (Legal Manager, Kingsbridge), Tania Bowers (General Counsel, APSCo), and John Chaplin (Associate Partner, EY People Advisory Services).

A quick show of hands demonstrated that not many people in the room felt prepared for IR35, which, according to the panel, reflected the much more general picture across the UK’s recruitment market. Chaplin pointed out that many of his clients were only in the early stages of preparations and time was running out, especially since recruiters, as fee-payers, are the party liable for ensuring correct tax is paid. After hearing from everyone on the panel, it emerged that recruiters should see this as an opportunity to reposition relationships with their clients and they can do this through taking the lead on communication, ensuring the supply chain is engaged, educating end clients and contractors, and offering solutions to clients to they can be guided through the changes. As Hayman puts it, leaving clients to panic will just result in them saying they don’t want to use contractors anymore.

Commercial & Industry

The second panel had a focus on commercial and industry issues and was made up of Thomas Wynne (Managing Director, Kingsbridge), Charlie Cox (Commercial Manager, SThree), Richard Harris (Chief Legal Officer, Resource Solution), and Julian Ball (Legal Director, PayStream).

The panel quickly established that the response of banks should not be seen as reflective of the wider UK market – contractors will still have their place in the workforce. Recruiters, then, should set about making themselves as appealing to the best contract talent possible. The panel also discussed that, while scope of work contracts may become increasingly common, they should not be seen as a ‘magic bullet’ for avoiding dealing with IR35. Proper determination still needs to be carried out. Again, communication and a proactive approach from recruiters emerged as a theme, but the panel also encouraged reflection on the part of recruiters, to look at their supply chain and ensure they’re running a tight ship. After all, liability sits with them.

 

IR35 Protect Insurance

The day ended with Thomas Wynne unveiling Kingsbridge’s brand new IR35 insurance solutions, which are now available on the Kingsbridge website. The three IR35 Protect packages have launched alongside our revamped Legal Expenses cover and offer three options to contractors: Essential, Standard, and Premium.

They offer everything our Legal Expenses Cover does, with the addition of £100,000 of cover for taxes and interest from HMRC, and penalties from HMRC. Standard and Premium, also offer the option of IR35 Assessments by our expert panel. Standard offers one review, while Premium gives the luxury of unlimited reviews. They remove all tax liability from the recruitment supply chain and can be purchased by anyone in that supply chain, but will protect everyone by indemnifying the party deemed liable under the legislation. Even better, the policy doesn’t change if the end client changes through the year, as long as the role is not materially different.

Kingsbridge are hosting an Industry Insight webinar on the 17th December. Nicola Hayman (Legal Manager) & Thomas Wynne (Managing Director) will go into detail about IR35 Protect and also summarise discussions that took place at the Industry Insight event.

Industry Insight Webinar

Sign up now >>


What does the General Election mean for the IR35 Reforms?

What does the general election mean for ir35

Just when we all thought things couldn’t get any more complicated with regards British politics, a 12th December General Election has been thrown into the mix. As the news is filled with stories of campaigns, Brexit, and whether or not nativity plays will need to be cancelled, most contractors are wondering what this (and the delayed Budget earlier this month) will mean for April 2020’s IR35 reforms.

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Do I need a website as a contractor?

Do I need a website

If you’re in the process of setting up your own business as a contractor or freelancer then one of the biggest things on your mind is probably how best to market yourself.

There are lots of things you can do and some you’ll have already implemented: designing business cards, polishing your LinkedIn profile, signing up with recruiters, and speculatively calling and emailing companies or brands you would like to work with are just a few. However, building a website could well be something you’re undecided over whether or not to do.

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What to do with an unpaid invoice

What to do if an invoice goes unpaid

It’s an unpleasant fact about contracting and freelancing: occasionally you may come across clients who either pay late or don’t pay at all. Sometimes this can be an innocent mistake, sometimes it can be a deliberate tactic on the part of the client to manage their business’s cash flow. Either way, it’s annoying for the self-employed who then have to dedicate time and energy to chasing up late or missing payments, which takes away from time spent on actual work projects.

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IR35 in the Private Sector: What you need to know

IR35 in the Private Sector - Webinar Summary

Back in September, Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance’s Legal Manager, Nicola Hayman, teamed up with Andy Chamberlain, Deputy Director of Policy at ISPE, to deliver a special webinar for contractors who may find themselves caught up in next year’s private sector IR35 reforms. The webinar attracted a huge 970 contractors, all keen to find out more about whether IR35 will affect them and how it will be different to the already-rolled-out public sector reforms.

If you have an hour and a cuppa, you can sit down and watch the webinar on YouTube. But if you’d prefer to read about it, then don’t worry. We’ve summarised the important points of the webinar into this article so you can get through it a bit more quickly.

You can still grab that cuppa first though….

 

IR35 and its public sector roll-out

According to Chamberlain, IR35 is a “deadly cocktail of complexity, tedium and importance.” Complicated because, as has been aptly demonstrated, it’s hard to know when it applies, boring because it relates to tax (not many people find tax very interesting), and important because the government are prioritising IR35 tax compliance. Which, ultimately, means contractors need to get around the complexity and overcome any sense of boredom because, well, it’s happening.

So how is your IR35 status determined? In the first instance, there are three key factors to consider to determine status:

  • Personal service – Can you send a substitute to do the work in your place without requiring permission from your client? If you have an unfettered right to do this then you can argue that IR35 doesn’t apply to you.
  • Mutuality of Obligation (MOO) – This is a highly contested feature as people define it differently and, Chamberlain says, the government have applied an extreme definition to their reforms. Ultimately, there must be obligations on both parties (contractor and client) to do something for one another for IR35 to apply.
  • Control – Who controls the work that’s being done? Contractors shouldn’t be controlled by their client in the way an employee is controlled by their employer.

In order to make a case that IR35 does not apply to you, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that at least one of these factors does not apply to your contract and working practices However, other factors can be taken into account as well. This is known as the business-on-own-account test which was brought to the fore earlier this year when HMRC lost its IR35 case against presenter an journalist Kaye Adams. This test looks at whether you are in business on your own account or whether you are “part and parcel” of the organisation by examining things such as:

  • Do you take on financial risk?
  • Do you need your own business insurance?
  • Do you need to provide your own equipment?
  • Do you attend training, team meetings, or team building sessions?
  • Do you have access to the staff car park?
  • Do you have access to the staff canteen?
  • Do you attend office Christmas parties?

The argument from HMRC is that if your answers to these questions suggest you are actually “part and parcel” of the organisation, then you are a disguised employee and, therefore, IR35 applies. HMRC claim that there is widespread non-compliance on this, but Chamberlain points out they have lost six out of seven of their last IR35 cases since the roll-out in the public sector, so perhaps non-compliance isn’t quite as widespread as they believe.

So, what changes do the IR35 reforms mean? Put very simply the changes mean that a contractor’s IR35 status will now be determined by the end engager, not the contractor as it currently is. If a contractor is found to be within IR35, they will be taxed at source in the same way as a permanent employee. However, unlike a permanent employee, they will not have any employment rights and will still need to charge and pay VAT.

Predictably, this has created issues in the public sector:

  • Public sector bodies are notoriously risk averse and so blanket decisions were made, bringing contractors inside IR35 when there was no reason for them to be. TfL and the NHS both did this initially, revising their approach later after the damage had been done.
  • As a result, many contractors left or are preparing to leave the public sector (31% according to an IPSE and CIPD joint survey in January 2018).
  • Because of this, rates are rising meaning the public sector now has to pay more to get work done.
  • Many people are paying employment taxes while being denied employment rights.

Now, we’re sure you can see where the “complex and boring” bit comes from. But forewarned is forearmed and, at Kingsbridge, we think it’s important to understand the detail of what’s happened already in order to understand what will be happening in the private sector next year.

 

IR35’s private sector roll-out

As most of you will know, IR35 will be rolling out in April 2020, as announced by then-Chancellor Philip Hammond in the 2018 Budget (and as predicted by IPSE and most other industry bodies when the public sector reforms were announced).

The first thing to note is it will only affect contractors working for medium and large private sector end clients (note – this is not the size of the recruiters). HMRC categorises these, at present, as any company with an annual turnover of more than £10.2 million, or a balance sheet of more than £5.1 million, or more than 50 employees. So, anything above any one of these criteria means a business falls into the medium or large category and so is liable for IR35.

If this applies to you, the major change is that your PSC no longer determines your IR35 status and is no longer liable for ensuring the correct tax is paid.

  • Your end client now determines your IR35 status
  • Your fee-payer is liable for ensuring correct tax is paid
  • Tax will be paid at source (PAYE), usually at the basic rate dependent on earnings
  • The end client and fee-payer may be one and the same if your client pays you directly, or they may be two different entities if you are paid via an agency

Your end client will provide a Status Determination Statement (SDS) outlining your IR35 status and their reasoning. This will be passed down the chain (where necessary) from the end client to the fee-payer. Liability transfers with the SDS, so if a party in the chain fails to pass the SDS on, then they become liable for non-compliance. The SDS is based on the engagement, not on you as an individual. So, you could be caught inside IR35 on one contract but not on another. In fact, you could be working on two contracts at the same time, one within IR35 and one outside of it.

A big difference to the public sector reforms is that there will be a client-led status disagreement process so there is an agreed process for you to challenge the SDS if you don’t believe it’s correct. Your end client has 45 days to respond from when you push back, although they are not under any obligation to change their decision. It at least means that there is some way to formally disagree with decisions though – something that was missing from the public sector reforms.

 

What can contractors do to prepare for IR35 reforms?

Hayman is very clear that if your assignment is legitimately outside IR35 then you should be able to continue working in this way. Equally, you should ensure you review your working arrangements prior to next April to avoid being caught by IR35 unnecessarily.
She suggests you can prepare for this by:

  • Discussing your role with clients and recruiters
  • Ensuring you understand the new process
  • Understanding what defines your status (look back at the points made earlier or take a look at the Government’s CEST tool)
  • Checking your business insurances – you will still need this as long as you are contracting through a limited company
  • Checking your working practices against your contract (You can get a review from our specialist IR35 review partner Larsen Howie)
  • Renegotiating your contract in time for the reforms – especially if you have been working outside IR35 on 5 April, but will find yourself within it on 6 April on the same engagement
  • Considering other models of working (where necessary)
  • Being aware of unscrupulous umbrella companies (for instance those who claim to offer big take-home numbers)
  • Doing your research -In August this year, the Government published guidance for clients and agencies which can be found on the UK website. Draft legislation has also been published
  • Speaking to experts

At Kingsbridge, we’ve already been writing lots to help contractors understand the IR35 reforms and aim to have more expert guidance available over the next few months so keep up to date with our blog for all the latest.

 

 

Do you know how to spin yourself?

How to spin yourself

No, we’re not talking about some crazy exercise fad or bizarre pastime. Instead, we’re talking about ways you can disguise your perceived “weaknesses” as a freelancer or contractor and turn them into strengths that will make you uniquely hireable.

But what does this look like in real terms?

 

Availability

 

What got us thinking about this was reading about Hannah Martin, co-founder of The Talented Ladies Club and successful freelance copywriter, who was also a parent. In the early days, she found being a mum meant she could rarely be available to work onsite with a client. However, she performed a rather genius sleight of hand by identifying her USP.

 

This was built around being the go-to copywriter if you had an urgent brief, or if you needed work doing overnight or over the weekend. Clients suddenly weren’t bothered by having to brief her over the phone and have her work remotely if it meant they were delivering work to their boss on time. This is a great example of putting a spin on a supposed shortcoming and making it a strength that sells.

 

Experience

 

If you’re a younger contractor and freelancer, your comparative lack of experience can be a bit daunting. The same goes for older contractors who have perhaps only held one or two long-term roles prior to becoming self-employed – you may feel inexperienced compared to people who have a more varied CV.

 

Remember though, a more focused career doesn’t necessarily make you inexperienced, it makes you a specialist. While others may be able to do lots of things, you can do one or two things exceptionally well. It’s just a case of turning how you think about yourself on its head.

 

Fees

 

Fees may not seem like something you can put a spin on. They are what they are, after all. But that doesn’t stop prospective clients (for freelancers more than contractors) attempting to haggle when you give them your estimate for an assignment.

 

Putting a spin on your fees helps prospective clients see the full value of your service and what is included in that estimate. So, instead of simply telling a client your day rate and what deliverable they’ll get at the end – whether it’s a new company-wide email system, a civil engineering project, or simply some marketing copy – make sure they know that they’re also getting your years of experience, your various skills, your problem-solving abilities, your contractor insurance and anything else you consider relevant. This can be the difference between winning a contract and losing out to someone who’s cheaper but not necessarily as talented.

 

Spinning yourself as a contractor or freelancer isn’t about being dishonest – you’re not saying anything about yourself that’s not true. It’s simply about knowing how to market yourself and make sure that your USPs shine through. People can be quick to dismiss things that don’t fit into their way of thinking, so putting a spin on things that could be seen as problematic instead shows that they are, in fact, benefits of hiring you. And that can be no bad thing.

Personality turn-offs that could cost you a contract

Behaviours that could cost you a contract

While it’s popular to say “you do you”, this may not be the case if you’re in an interview situation.

In fact, a recent report from CV-Library and TopCV (based on a survey of 200 employers) found that a huge 75% believe that personality is the most important factor when considering someone for a job, whether that be as a contractor or as a permanent employee. Just to put it in perspective, that’s compared to those who believed it was education (13%) or appearance (12%).

So, you could have all the skills and education, but if there’s a clash of personalities, you could well lose out on the contract.

Personality no-no’s

According to the report there is a top ten of personality turn-offs that are almost guaranteed to get you taken off the recruitment shortlist. These are:

  • Arrogance
  • Dishonesty
  • Being unreliable
  • Close-mindedness
  • Being immoral
  • Ignorance
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Self-centredness
  • A short temper
  • Cruelty

The list of the most favoured personality traits is somewhat self-explanatory. It includes being reliable, having confidence, honesty, being honourable, loyalty, friendliness, and being self-disciplined.

Careers Expert at TopCV, Amanda Augustine, had this to say on the results of the survey: “Historically, assessing job seekers was contingent on two factors – experience and skills – but our new survey reveals that more intangible qualities, such as personality, are determining which candidates rise to the top.”

Of course, the fact that personality traits are intangible can mean it comes down to personal preference, but there are things you can to do make sure you’re at an advantage.

How to make sure you come across at your best

When bidding for a contract, you have a relatively small space of time to convince the hiring manager that you’re the right person for this project. As well demonstrating your experience and skills, you also need to use the time to show off your sparkling personality. So, what do you need to do?

  • Tread the fine line between selling yourself and coming across as arrogant and entitled
  • Be open, transparent and honest
  • Arrive in plenty of time and prepare anything you said you would
  • Show yourself to be open-minded and well-informed
  • Be kind, polite and pleasant – it costs nothing

While this might seem obvious to most people, it’s easy to get carried away in an interview environment, especially with the race-to-the-bottom business culture so often demonstrated on the likes of LinkedIn and in popular culture. It’s not necessary to be an awful person in order to get ahead and, as this report shows, it can actually damage your chances in very real terms.

 

Of course, there are other things that can also damage your chances at securing a contract and not having the correct contractor insurance is one of them. If you’re ready for renewal or need to buy for the first time, our expert team can help. Simply call 01242 808740.

How to be assertive as a contractor

How to be more direct at work

Here at Kingsbridge Contractor Insurance, we recently had a conversation with an IT contractor that gave us insight into a scenario that we think may be fairly commonplace. How to be assertive when contracting.

The contractor told us that a couple of projects she had recently worked on had overrun past their deadline due to her clients holding things up internally. This was due to things like long turnaround times on sign-offs, delays in providing information and other hold-ups. She said she felt as if she should have pushed back to her clients, reminding them of the deadlines and asking them to speed things up. However, she didn’t feel confident to do this as she is a contractor and didn’t feel she had the same influence as a permanent employee.

So, we’re here to tell you what we told her: never be afraid to be assertive.

 

Read more

The pros and cons of flexible workspaces

Flexible Workspaces

Not that long back, not working from the office meant, instead, working from home or, maybe, a library. Then came the coffee shops with their free WiFi and the idea of more flexible workspaces began to gather pace, cumulating in the more formal co-working spaces now available in most cities across the UK. These offer WiFi, food services, printing facilities, meeting rooms, virtual office services and the company of other freelancers, and latest research has shown that these workspaces are growing in popularity with no sign of tailing off.

Contractor Umbrella reports that forecasts suggest there will soon be more than 20,000 co-working spaces globally and this number will reach 25,968 by 2022. That’s 56% growth in 2018 alone and an average of 2,500 new spaces popping up per year since 2015. Last year, a new flexible workspace opened in London every five days.

But what are the pros and cons of using these spaces?

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