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07. 11. 2018

IR35 in the private sector – 17 months to get it right!

One ray of light from Philip Hammond’s latest budget comes in the form of a delayed implementation of the Off Payroll rules in the private sector (more commonly known as IR35) – although the fact that he confirmed that it WILL be rolled out in April 2020 was not quite as positive given the farce that it has been in the public sector. The problems have been multiple, with blanket decisions made by public bodies as to whether or not the rules apply, resulting in unfair, incorrect or illegal taxing of contractors, and unfair liability risk for the fee payer (often and usually the agency). Even when blanket decisions have not been made, the HMRC’s own CEST tool for making the decisions is questionable at any level of its ability to give a fair and correct decision. HMRC will continue to deny it but many contractors left the public sector (and HMRC’s own projects) to work in roles that did not deem them an employee under IR35, and where they remained, the clients often experienced significantly increased costs. When this legislation moves to the private sector it will strangely not apply to companies with less than 250 employees – will we see a similar move of contractors to smaller clients and an increased cost to larger ones? It does not feel like a level playing field. In 2017, the public sector and the contractor and agency community were given about 2 weeks to prepare after the final legislation was released (yes, you read that correctly, 2 weeks). At least now we have been given 17 months notice to educate our clients and contractors and implement relevant IT systems, HMRC has 17 months to get its own affairs in order and give us all a toolkit fit for purpose, and the government has 17 months to come to a fair decision as to who is liable for the decisions made by the end client. I won’t hold my breath.
02. 10. 2018

Confused about your pay with Off Payroll rules? Read this...

Are you a Limited Company (PSC) worker, still confused about Off Payroll rules (currently in the Public Sector, probably coming to the private sector) and how this affects the way you’re paid, or the way you pay yourself, or how much you'll 'lose'? We are now over 18 months into the changes made regarding who makes the decision on whether IR35 applies in the public sector, yet there is still confusion as to how this actually hits contractors in the pocket. We are still speaking to many contractors who make all sorts of claims about how little they will actually take home compared to when they previously worked outside the IR35 legislation, sometimes as little as 40%. Now whilst I agree that in all but the simplest situation, contractors will be slightly worse off, but it is rarely by the amount that is first perceived (unless, of course, there are some funny goings on in terms of not quite paying the amount of tax owed (strange off shore loans or other illegal avoidance schemes*) Note that this is not tax advice and I do not intend here to go into specific calculations. Where example figures are used, these are purely that, just simple example figures, but accurate enough to give a fair representation of my points! The first thing many contractors do is to compare the net amount they will be paid inside IR35 with the gross amount they usually get outside. For example, a contractor who is used to earning £500 per day outside IR35, is likely now to be offered a rate of around £435 per day inside IR35 (the difference being the submissions that agency needs to make to HMRC for Employer’s NI, as well as the apprenticeship levy if it applies). From the £435 per day, employment deductions of Employee’s NI and PAYE will be made, before the ‘deemed’ payment is made to the ltd company. If one simply compares £500 per day to the new payment of £435 less deductions, then clearly there is a significant difference. But it is not that simple as there are other rules / obligations that need to be considered. For those INSIDE IR35: Your company is paid the Deemed Payment (the net payment after deductions made to the contractor’s ltd company): Once the deemed payment is made to the ltd company, you still need a way of taking that money out of your ltd company. This can be done in 2 ways: 1. Dividends: If you’re a director of your own company, you might choose to pay yourself a dividend from the company’s profits. You can pay yourself a tax-free dividend up to the total of the deemed direct payment received from contracts in the public sector, where Income Tax and NICs have been deducted at source. You don’t need to declare that dividend on your Self Assessment tax return. 2. Payroll: You can pay yourself for the work provided to public sector clients through your company’s payroll. As employment taxes have already been paid on the amount your intermediary (your ltd company) receives,you can pay yourself that amount without deducting Income Tax or NICs. And the icing on the cake: No Corporation Tax When you are calculating your company’s turnover, you should deduct the VAT exclusive amount of the invoice, which is the amount from which Income Tax and NICs were deducted at source. Your company accounts should show this deduction to make sure the amount is not taxed twice. So to put it simply, the amount paid to you by the agency is yours to take out of your PSC (your ltd company) WITHOUT ANY FURTHER DEDUCTIONS. For those OUTSIDE IR35 To get your £500 per day out of your ltd company, again you can pay yourself dividends, or a salary (or mixture of both) Dividends: The tax advantages between dividends and salary are diminishing but, nevertheless, there is still a slight advantage to dividends. As opposed to the Inside options above, your dividend will be liable to dividend tax, AND corporation tax. Payroll: You can take it as salary – but your company will be liable for Employer’s NI (aha, so there’s the difference between the £500 and £435 already gone), then there are the same NI and PAYE deductions taken that were taken for your deemed payment, meaning that if you were to pay yourself purely by means of a salary, your take home will be the same as if you received the deemed payment from the agency. As you can see, the difference is not as clear as might be first thought, and many roles inside IR35 have the rates inflated to compensate. So next time you are considering turning down a contract opportunity that is caught by the legislation, it might be time to think again! And to keep things really simple, using a compliant umbrella company means that the legislation will not apply, you will not have the headache of running a company, and your net pay will be virtually identical to a deemed payment. *Many contractors are unaware of the Employment Intermediaries Legislation which requires employment intermediaries (ie agencies) to submit a quarterly report to HMRC detailing ALL payments made to a contractor / contractor’s ltd company - they know what contractors should be declaring regarding all funds paid through an intermediary.
19. 07. 2018

Things to consider when writing your CV...

So first, what is the purpose of a CV? In many cases, when not required to add a cover letter or application form, your CV is a company’s or hiring manager’s first impression of you. You might be the most gifted candidate in your field but if you don’t engage the reader; include relevant info or stand out then you’ll be limiting your opportunities and losing out to potentially less skilled candidates. Where do people go wrong? There are a few things that this stems back to; sometimes it’s down to people using generic templates or looking for what should be in a CV online. There’s also the people teaching how to write CVs. Most of us are taught how to write a CV while at school, college or university by people who have likely never had to hire anyone in their lives. So on that point, here are some tips on writing a better CV. 1. Personal Statements Now I’m all for writing personal statements to introduce you and your CV but they don’t need to be more than a line or two. Hiring managers aren’t really that interested in this area of your CV, they want to know what you have done and what you have achieved. Instead of writing you can ‘work well as part of a team or on your own’ or ‘I am (adjective), (adjective) and (adjective)’ Save it, display it in your work history section. 2. Work History Don’t just write what you have done throughout your roles; put some achievements in there and try to add statistics if you can or if it’s relevant. As mentioned in the above section this is where displaying you’re able to work in a team or alone is more relevant, discuss your team and the role YOU played – it’s more impactful to discuss your personal attributes within this section giving relevant examples. 3. Education Within this section if you have qualifications relevant to the job role for example Prince2 for Project management or ISTQB for Testing, put them before that F you got in Art in 2001. Always include the grades and dates. With GCSEs - as important as they are - a simple ’10 GCSE’s A*-C, (including English Language (B), Maths (B))’ is enough information. 4. Layout Layout is hugely important; it needs to be clean and professional. Choose a font that’s easy to read and remains professional, usually I’d suggest any of the following; Ariel, Calibri, Georgia or Trebuchet MS. Try to use size 11/12 font and if your CV exceeds 2 pages... so what! As long as it’s well spaced out and easy to read with relevant and interesting information, we don’t care! Some people use layout to stand out from other candidates it’s a good opportunity to be creative and different. NEVER USE COMIC SANS. 5. Stand out This is where it’s up to you; be different, be creative but always be you.
06. 07. 2018

A History of the NHS: 70 Years On

A History of the NHS: 70 Years On Post-War Predicament On the 2nd of September 1945 World War II came to an end. Of course it was not without its repercussions, the British public had endured a pretty serious case of being bombed, and therefore people weren’t generally very well. Along comes Aneurin Bevan who starts aggressively pursuing a massive healthcare reform, a sort of National Health Service, but the Conservative opposition were quick to try and shoot it down. They feared that if hospitals were nationally owned then they would lose the close patient-doctor relationship. The Labour government beat back these amendments and on July 5th 1948, at the Park Hospital in Manchester, the NHS was officially launched after only three years of constant arguing. The genesis of the idea really only came alive in the ‘Beveridge Report’, written by Liberal economist William Beveridge, which proposed massive social reforms, one of which was the idea for a welfare state. In the study he found that rations during the time of rationing the cases of deficiency diseases and infant mortality dropped a great deal, the conclusion to draw from this is that poorer families were actually healthier during a period of national intervention. Upon discovering this, Beveridge had a massive light bulb pop up over his head, he would advise an increase of national intervention on a huge scale. Cue Bevan; cue the first paragraph of this blog. Over the Years Not long after its introduction to British life, the NHS began innovating, and hasn’t stopped since. In the early sixties the contraceptive pill was made widely available, which proved to be a massive step in the right direction for the rights of women. Around the same sort of time they also stopped just throwing mentally ill people into asylums and forgetting about them, a treatment technique that was waning in popularity and needed very serious reform. During the seventies they mastered the power of painkillers with the discovery of endorphins, and managed to master the bone marrow transplant. With every new decade the levels of tech used within hospitals increased, with new machinery and research helping to diagnose and treat people. The following decades led to more innovations, too many to write about without just making a long list, and still the NHS kept fighting on. What’s Next? The question is; will the NHS last another 70 years? The answer; nobody knows. There are massive budget constraints in place right now, and the NHS has always suffered from being an incredibly expensive endeavour, these add up and I’m sure there are some people in government positions who want completely privatise health. I think that would be a great shame for this great public service. We shouldn’t point at its weaknesses as reasons to destroy it, we should help to fix those weaknesses and make the NHS stronger. I’ll finish this blog by stating the three core principles the NHS was founded on: i.That it meets the needs of everyone. ii.That it’s free at the point to delivery. iii.That it’s based on clinical need, not ability to pay. Here’s hoping we’re working with the NHS for another 70 years!
21. 05. 2018

Off Payroll in the Private Sector. A disaster waiting to happen.

On Friday the Government published the long-anticipated HMRC consultation on IR35 compliance in the private sector. As you may be aware, this follows the public sector reform in April 2017, and the announcement in the November 2017 Budget. You will also be aware if you have read my previous blogs on the subject, the Government’s seemingly blinkered drive to push this through (as they did within the public sector) whilst continuing to ignore the substantial concerns aired by all stakeholders, drives me mad. HMRC estimates that an additional £410M of income tax and NICs has been remitted since April 2017. This is before they take into account the drop in both corporation tax and dividend tax receipts from all the PSCs that are deemed inside the legislation. The net gain is something nearer £100m which, while clearly is quite a lot of money, I suggest it pales into insignificance when compared to the costs incurred by the Public Sector (in time, increased rates, cost of compliance teams etc) and others in the supply chain (recruiters requiring increased compliance teams, additional payroll systems, additional payroll staff, etc etc etc). From the consultation it is clear that the Government’s preferred option is to extend off-payroll into the private sector based on the assumption that non-compliance in the sector is widespread and due, to a greater extent, to active avoidance, which needs to be addressed. The consultation suggests that the public sector reforms have been largely successful, and supports the current system for determining employment status, defending the CEST tool (this tool is indefensible!) Those of you who worked to comply last April will recall that the rules weren’t finalised until 2 weeks before the changes came into force, meaning that it was impossible for the majority of the public sector employers and workers to get to grips with the changes in time and so countless incorrect status decisions followed. And no one really understood why their take-home pay changed. You can read a previous rant here. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been directly involved with this will comprehend the time, disruption and cost that these changes have caused, and now it seems the fears of the entire flexible workforce may come true with the rules extended to the Private Sector. Where self-employed workers have been punished in the Public Sector by taxing them as employees, but with NO EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS, rather than stamping out false self-employment, this will be mirrored across the whole UK economy. The Government and HMRC seem intent on burying their heads in the sand to the fact that many workers have left multiple critical projects and that costs to the public sector have risen. And one thing never considered with these changes, is the costs to the economy in complying with the changes, which I assure you, probably make any tax gains in the Government’s coffers look small. This ‘solution’ does nothing to tackle false self-employment and merely punishes those that make this country’s flexible workforce, world-class. If the Government really wants to tackle false self-employment, it could start by creating a statutory definition of self-employment once and for all. Or, as seems to be its intent, it could create mayhem across the economy just before the UK needs all the competitive advantage it can gain as we step away from the European Union.
05. 04. 2018

GDPR - is it all down to interpretation?

As many of you will be aware, there are major changes underway around the laws governing data protection in the form of GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulations. The regulations are being updated in the light of the changing world in which we live and the huge amount of data that is held or shared, much of it online. As recruiters, we take data protection very seriously and have spent months understanding and preparing for the new changes. One of these changes is ensuring we have a lawful basis for processing data and, given that GDPR is not recruitment specific, a lot of this is down to how the legislation is interpreted. Now finally, the ICO (the governing body – the Information Commissioners Office) has released a 46-page piece of guidance around one of the lawful basis that can be used, and hidden away in this guidance are a few paragraphs specific to recruitment. Many candidates post their CVs on CV databases online, such as Monster, Jobsite, CV Library etc, that many recruiters subscribe to. Most recruiters will download suitable candidates onto their own database to enable notes to be taken against the candidate regarding conversations etc. What we and most recruiters who follow The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 do, ensuring we work in an ethical and transparent manner, is gain explicit permission from a candidate before their CV is submitted to any client. This means that our candidates always know where their CV has been sent, and always with their consent. What the ICO's advice is around CVs downloaded from CV databases is that it is in the agencies’ legitimate business interest to send the CV to clients, because the fact that it was posted on a CV database, it is ok to send it out to clients without explicit permission from the candidate. The specific wording in the guidance is “they [the candidate] would clearly expect that recruitment agencies would access the CV and share with it their clients” It remains my view that downloading the CV would be expected and is in the recruiter's legitimate interest, and this does not override the rights of the individual so is in keeping with one of the foundations of the legislation, however it remains my, and my company’s, view that a CV should not be sent to any client without the explicit consent that we have always sought, and will continue to seek. Although I don’t expect the ICO to understand the nuances of every industry sector, this simple example just highlights the complex platform that GDPR is creating, the huge room for interpretation (misinterpretation could be very expensive for a business), and the problems that many businesses (it affects ALL businesses in the UK) face in trying to comply.