Our Blogs

News from industry, GSA or the team...

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.
24. 01. 2018

Accepting a counteroffer - a nice pay rise, or a mistake?

If you’ve ended up reading this article, then more than likely the last few weeks of your new year have been quite the rocky road. After the New Year arrived and it was time to take a rain check on things, you realised that for whatever reason you weren’t happy in your role, and you made the decision to start looking for a new opportunity to kick start 2018. Following a period of intense job searching, between your new fitness routine, which involved meeting your recruiter and developing this relationship, you were asked to interview for a promising new opportunity. After a series of meetings with the hiring manager, much to your delight, you were offered the job. Then, after all of that, your current employer threw you a curve ball and made you a counter offer (shock), one which you found hard to turn down. Whilst you were feeling flattered at the time, all the buzz quickly wore off, only to be replaced with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, the feeling you have made a huge mistake. Don’t panic. Whether you made the wrong decision or not, you will bounce back from this and get your career and 2018 back on track. But, before you make any sudden moves back into your search, check for the below signs that this counter offer was definitely a mistake: 1. Nothing has changed Look at your reasons for leaving in the first place… Do you feel these issues have been rectified or is everything exactly the same as it was before? For example, maybe you felt like you didn’t have a great work-life balance, or the commitment you were putting into your job was going unnoticed. More often than not that counter offer you received included some great new perks; a higher salary, stock options etc. But at the end of the day that offer didn’t acknowledge the deeper reasons behind your motivation for looking for another role elsewhere, such as a lack of workplace fulfilment, getting back the passion for what you do, the opportunity for development, and a sense of purpose. These are the things that material benefits simply can’t make up for. 2. Things are actually worse than before If you are being truthful with yourself, is work actually worse than it was before? Left wondering why on earth your employer didn’t try harder to keep you until you handed in your notice? Surely they could see you were unhappy, and if they couldn’t, well then that says it all. Perhaps your counter offer came with new demands as a result of your new salary package, despite the fact that, in your eyes, the counter offer is simply a fair reflection of the job you have been doing for months or even years. Perhaps your colleagues have distanced themselves from you, losing trust because you were initially going to abandon ship. Whatever the case may be, you dread going to work more than before. 3. Your inner voice is screaming out to you It is, of course, possible that perhaps you have all of the rewards and responsibilities that you were hoping for. Perhaps your colleagues are thrilled that you are staying; they are making you feel more welcome than ever before. But something in your gut just doesn’t feel right. Although you can’t put your finger exactly on what is wrong, parts of your job are bringing you down, perhaps subtle office politics at play or the lack of innovative and inspirational leaders to pick up the office motivation. Whatever it is, your inner voice is telling you to leave. If this is the case, I would advise you listen to it. What to do next Rest assured, you’re not the first person to fall head over heels for a juicy counteroffer, and you certainly won’t be the last. But now you owe it to yourself to be completely honest with yourself about what you do want from your career. Write down beyond the material perks. Perhaps it’s a better workplace culture, a more motivating boss or better progression opportunities. Think about what your current employer is lacking, and how your next employer will need to be different. Assess whether the first offer which you turned down could really tick these boxes. If it did, then swallow your pride and arrange a meeting with your recruiter to explain the situation. You never know, the previous offer may still be on the table. If not, see if your recruiter can put you forward for any similar roles that they have available. Let your recruiter know you are on the hunt again, but that this time you have a better understanding of what you do and don’t want from your next role, and a greater confidence in your worth. They are there to help you and will have seen this situation before. Relay your new found criteria to them, and use this yourself as you Don’t be too hard on yourself about your decision to take that counter offer. After all, you gave your current employer a second chance to meet your career needs, and for whatever reason, these needs haven’t been met. At least now you have solidified in your mind what it is you truly want from your next move. Look at it from this perspective, accepting that counter offer was less of a mistake and more of a learning curve, one which will help guarantee that your next step is a successful one. 2018 can still be the year you start a new chapter in your career.
16. 01. 2018

Turning down an 'IR35' contract? Think again!

Are you a Limited Company (PSC) worker, still confused about IR35, or Off Payroll in the Public Sector and how this affects the way you’re paid, or the way you pay yourself, or how much you'll 'lose'? Even though we are now over 10 months into the changes made regarding who makes the decision on whether IR35 applies in the public sector, there is still confusion as to how this will actually hit 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, 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*) Note that I do not intend here to go into specific calculations and where example figures are used, these are purely that, just simple example figures. 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 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 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. 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, 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! *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.
12. 11. 2017

Writing a (Clinical Coding) CV

This week I received a candidate’s CV that was 27 pages long and even included a detailed breakdown of their swimming achievements at school, including their 50 meter swimming badge. Don’t get me wrong, an amazing achievement to be proud of but should it really be listed on your CV? Probably not. So this got me thinking, what would be my top tips for writing the best coding CV? Include A Personal Statement Include a small paragraph at the start of CV, introducing yourself and your skill set. As much as your experience will speak for yourself, it is always good to have an introduction first. Keep It Clear We receive so many CVs that are written like a novel – large paragraphs with no breaks. This makes it super hard for the reader to pick out key information. Keep it clear, use bullet points and break lines, this makes it easier for potential managers to spot key information. Keep the font choice simple and use headings and sub headings. My favourite lay out for employment history goes a little something like this; Job Title Organisation Name Dates Brief over view of work completed Simple right? More than two pages? The old “two page” CV is really a myth. If you have been working within coding for the last 25 years, you are going to have a lot to say. Don’t try and squeeze your experience into two pages, keep it clear, concise and easy to read. Whether it is 2 pages or 4 pages, who cares! List Your Specialities Be sure to dedicate a section of your CV to your coding specialities – every coding department is different and some cover some weird and wonderful specialities, make sure you shout about them – it gives a great insight into your experience. Training & Workshops Sometimes a recent refresher can make the difference in securing a contract or not, make sure you list any up to date training workshops or refresher courses with dates they were completed. Keep It Coding As much as your previous roles matter, don’t go into too much detail about non Coding roles. Coding managers are interested in what applies to the world of coding, not what you were doing when you were 16 while working at the local supermarket – even if it did give you a great work ethic. Keep It Up to Date Sending off out of date CVs can look unprofessional, make sure you keep your CV updated with every job move – this saves time on boring admin further down the line too. Check and Check Again(!) Avoid those spelling mistakes by checking and checking again. Get a friend or partner to proof read, a fresh set of eyes can spot mistakes more easily!
11. 10. 2017

Clinical Coders question our Recruiters!

Clinical Coders Vs The Recruiters More often than not in the world of recruitment, it is recruiters firing questions at candidates to find out information about them, their roles and experience, and their interests. So we thought let’s turn the tables. Tom and Sophie have opened up this idea to our GSA coder community and below are a handful of questions which were fired their way... What made you decide you wanted to work in the recruitment industry? Tom: I had previous sales experience and always thought I was quite a personable person. A few of my friends had gone into the industry so I thought was worth a look. Nearly 10 years later and I haven’t looked back. Sophie: To be honest, I fell into it by complete chance. I had just graduated from my Business degree and had no idea what steps to take next. I had applied for a few graduate schemes and my CV was picked up by an agency based in Birmingham. They approached me about working directly for them mainly focusing on the IT market. I was there for just over 3 years before moving to GSA – the rest they say is history! How did you find out about Clinical Coding? Tom: I had just started at GSA, around 2009 and we were approached by a trust to help them find a permanent Clinical Coding Manager. I had no idea what the job entailed so did some research around it and tried to learn as much as I could about Clinical Coding. I soon found out how hard it was to find permanent candidates, which led to the idea of focusing on developing a contract market to help NHS trusts. It has gone from strength to strength over the last 8 years and now we supply to the majority of trusts up and down the country. Sophie: I had decided to make the jump from my previous agency for a new challenge and was contacted by Tom. He gave me a little insight into the world of Clinical Coding, I was intrigued and felt like it was a really interesting market to work in, so decided to go for it and joined GSA in March 2014. How do you feel about competition from other agencies working in the same market as you? Tom: It can be tricky, but I guess anyone that works in recruitment will tell you that. We have focused purely on NHS Clinical Coding for the last 8 years and I feel like that is a big advantage to us as an agency – we know the market and how it works inside out which is what I think sets us apart from other agencies. Sophie: Competition is part and parcel of recruitment - especially when working in a market where candidates are so in demand. I like to think that we can offer something different to our competitors and that there is a reason we have such a loyal contractor base who continue to use our services. What makes a great candidate for Clinical Coding contract work? Tom: I think the great candidates are those who have an open mind. Every NHS trust is so different, they have different policies and procedures and different ways of doing things. If we can find coders with lots of experience, but also who are willing to look at the different ways trusts do things and can learn and develop from that, then that makes them into great candidates. Sophie: For me, it is someone that genuinely has a passion for what they do. If they can take this passion to multiple trusts and inject it into other trainee or junior coders it gives great results. Obviously, knowledge is key in this market, but also candidates who want to carry on learning is always great as well. A candidate that can roll with the punches and has a thick skin is as there can be so many ups and downs in the contract world. What do you think the benefit of contractors is to a trust? Tom: I guess the saying time is money is pretty true here. The majority of trusts we know have used or do use contractors because they physically can’t get the permanent staff and they need coders in, coding so the trust doesn’t lose money. Alongside this, I think it is knowledge and experience, especially when you come down to the really tricky complex notes. A contractor can offer knowledge and insight as well as getting the job done. Sophie: Like Tom said, I think really it is knowledge and experience. We have a lot of really experienced coders who work for us that have worked in trusts up and down the country. It is very difficult to get that exposure as a permanent employee. Contractors can pick up different knowledge and tips and adapt quickly to environments. I think that gives priceless knowledge to the trusts and departments they work in. Do you have a favourite contractor and/or manager? Tom: I could never say I have a favourite! Some of our contractors really make me laugh, you get to know people on a personal level and that is really nice. The same with managers, some managers in the past have really not wanted to talk to me or haven’t needed our help and that is totally fine but it is great to follow that relationship through over months/years and develop it into something so if they do ever need our help they know where we are. Sophie: Every contractor and manager is so different! Some of our contractors we don’t hear from for months at a time, just only really get in touch if there is an issue or if their contract is ending. Others we speak to on a weekly basis but they are all so individual. I couldn’t say if I had a favourite, but I get huge satisfaction from meeting a new candidate or manager and building up relationships with them and seeing that transition from stranger to working partner – it really is great. What do you do in your spare time? Tom: I have a new baby girl at home – Summer – who was born in June so my spare time at the moment is mostly nappy changes and swimming classes! Sophie: Think about work? No, I’m joking! My spare time is mostly spent with my friends and family. I love to cook so I am often making up some sort of new recipe or testing out some baked treats on my boyfriend Phil, who always seems more than willing to oblige. If you have any other questions you would like to send to our Clinical Coder Recruiters please feel free to get in touch!
20. 09. 2017

Don't understand Off Payroll in the Public Sector legislation?

Are you working in a Public Sector role ‘deemed as being inside IR35’ but don't really understand it? I am writing this article (or rant) for 2 reasons – 1 – to give some basic guidance and understanding to anyone that has not yet got to grips with the legislative changes, and 2 – to vent some personal frustration – it still astounds me that this legislation was pushed through in any form, never mind with the muddled contractor/employee relationship that it has been. It does not help the public sector, the contractor community, the flexibility of the UK workforce, or the agency community caught in the middle, trying to calm the parties on either side. I was hoping that by September, we may have seen some settling down of the impact of the new Off Payroll in the Public Sector legislation, primarily in the understanding across the contracting sector of the changes, and how they affect the way ltd company contractors (and Umbrella workers for that matter) are paid. Unfortunately, and perhaps, understandably, this is not the case. I believe this is due to the fact that most contractors just can’t quite get their head around the legislation, the lack of employment rights afforded to those who are now paid as employees and therefore taxed as employees, the fact that rates for those working through their own PSC (personal services company – their Ltd company) will be (or certainly should be if the rules are applied properly) less than those working through an umbrella. It is this last point that troubles the contractors most, but it is all simply a matter of timing. For anyone deemed to be caught by the legislation, they will be classed as an employee and, as with any company paying an employee, there are HMRC payments and deductions to be made. (It’s worth pointing out here that if a contractor had previously deemed themselves within IR35 (IR35 rules have not changed, but who decides when they apply has), they would have to pay themselves from their Ltd company as an employee on the whole gross amount earned – their PSC would pay Employer’s NI (and submit to HMRC), then deduct Employee’s NI and PAYE form the pay, to come to a net pay amount.) Under the new legislation, it is the agency that has to submit the Employer’s NI directly to HMRC before any payment is made to the PSC/contractor, then deduct Employee’s NI and PAYE before submitting payment to the PSC/contractor (VAT on the original gross amount, before deductions, is also paid if VAT registered). If the contractor works through an umbrella, the same deductions are made but the quoted contractual pay rate includes the Employer’s NI as this is deducted by the umbrella after they are paid by the agency. Good chance I’ve lost you at this stage, probably because you’re busy huffing and puffing at the idiocy of what you’ve read so far! Essentially, the difference between the rate to an umbrella and the rate to PSC is the Employer’s NI, which will still be paid over to HMRC by the umbrella. An employer (the agency is the 'deemed' employer) cannot take Employer’s NI from an employee’s pay so the quoted pay rate has to be lower than the Umbrella to account for this, rather than it being the same and the agency then simply making all 3 deductions (ERNI, Employee’s NI, PAYE) which would be much easier to follow. The simple table below shows the timings of deductions – the figures are a representation and are not accurate. UMBRELLA PSC (YOUR LTD COMPANY) Quoted Umbrella Pay Rate £300 Employer’s NI submitted to HMRC £40 Less Employer’s NI deducted (£40) £260 Quoted PSC pay rate £260 Less PAYE and Employee’s NI Less PAYE and Employee’s NI Net take home pay Net take home pay (plus VAT on full PSC pay rate if VAT applicable At this stage, you probably simply want to know if you are better off working through your PSC or an umbrella. It could be marginal either way. And not something answered easily. You would need to consider accounting costs, umbrella costs, tax codes, hassle costs, what else you do with your ltd company (ie pension payments etc) etc etc etc. If the only thing you use your PSC for is to pay yourself, then an umbrella may be a simpler option. And finally, there is still misunderstanding from public sector bodies and contractors as to who has to make the decision regarding whether or not the legislation applies, and how, and when this decision should be made. One of my colleagues recently received an angered email from a contractor containing the following, which conveniently throws up a number of points: “Please also read up on how the new IR35 rules work – you cannot make any decision on a contract being outside of IR35 without the contractor taking the questionnaire.” Firstly, we do not make the decision, the client does. Secondly, the client can make the decision without using the HMRC toolkit. The toolkit is an aid to making the decision and apparently HMRC will stand by the decision given by the toolkit, providing the information entered is ‘accurate’ (now there’s a good wriggle out for HMRC). It is worth noting that the end client should take ‘reasonable care’ in making the decision, so using the toolkit would certainly support this approach. Finally, the decision has nothing to do with the contractor using the toolkit. This may give the contractor a case for a discussion with the client (or supporting a case against incorrect tax with HMRC in the future??) but the output is certainly not final. And breathe...