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Umbrella companies for contractors – questions to ask scheme providers

October 11, 2011

If you have decided to use a contractor umbrella company, you should make sure you ask a number of questions of potential providers before signing on the dotted line.

As is the same when choosing other services aimed at the contracting/freelancing market, you cannot beat personal recommendations from other contractors, however we recommend you find out the following information about any schemes you are considering:

1. Fees – How much are the scheme’s monthly or weekly GROSS and NET fees – i.e. how much to they charge before tax relief, as well as after tax relief has been factored in?

2. Payment – Does the scheme have fixed payment dates, or do they pay immediately upon receipt of a timesheet?

3. Speed – Does the company operate CHAPS payment (which are same day), or BACS (which takes several days to hit your account)?

4. Age – Is the scheme long-established, and how many contractors does it employ currently?

5. SLAs – Does the company offer any service guarantees?

6. Personal Service – Some umbrella companies will provide you with a dedicated ‘account manager’.

7. Business Insurance – Does the umbrella company provide you with business insurances, such as professional indemnity cover?

8. Expenses – If any scheme promises to boost your income and encourages its employees to claim for expenses they haven’t incurred, they should be avoided!

9. Other Benefits – You may be enticed by other ‘benefits’, such as private healthcare provision, family legal cover, childcare vouchers, etc.

10. Technology – Does the umbrella company provide an online system, where you can submit paperwork and messages? Can you check the status of your account online?