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The UK’s gig economy is showing no signs of slowing down with statistics suggesting that one in seven UK workers, which equates to a 4.8 million people, are now working for themselves.

Having ‘a job for life’ has become much more of a rarity these days and I anticipate that the current generation may see traditional ways of working die out as gig working becomes the norm.

Temporary work often used to be dismissed as something people did as a stepping stone to fill a gap before moving to a permanent position. Today, we see highly skilled people who can command big salaries giving up their full-time jobs to work in a way that affords them more freedom to take the jobs they want and to achieve a better work/life balance.

Opportunities for contracting are bountiful and many organisations are now using temporary workers as a key element of their talent strategy. Contractors are usually quick hires, capable of getting straight to work on a project and provide skills that permanent members of staff might not have.

However, the decision to go it alone can be a daunting one. There are no guarantees on where the next job is going to come from; contractors are not protected in the same way as permanent members of staff; and they also need to take care of their own tax and NI arrangements.

The good news is that there are ways for contractors to mitigate against these kinds of risk. As an umbrella company, we help contractors navigate these challenges by acting as their employer. The contractors we support are offered access to benefits that are typically not available to them including sick and holiday pay and even health care plans.

There’s one element of working for yourself that we see people come unstuck with time and time again and that’s trying to look after their own personal taxes. Understanding the tax rules that apply to them and legislation such asIR35 can be really confusing and if they get it wrong it can end up being a costly mistake.

For those contractors not wanting to take a chance on their own tax arrangements, an umbrella company ensures that full tax and National Insurance is calculated on their wage. We also support those wishing (and eligible) to contract as self-employed in the construction sector, ensuring their tax and NI arrangements are taken care of according to the Construction Industry Scheme’s requirements.

Some contractors may consider setting up as a limited company to help build their reputation and usually they tend to take their income out differently to a regular employee. Their income could be a mixture of salary and dividends when they start to make a profit. All contractors need to be aware of their IR35 status and should only be working as a limited company if they’re outside of the regulations.

There’s also support available for those workers who choose to work overseas. As excited as they might be at the prospect of taking the laptop to the beach, there are tax and legal implications to consider too. All countries have different rules for tax and so it can save a contractor an awful lot of time and effort if they seek professional advice on the specific requirements for the country they’re planning to move to.

Whatever a contractor’s circumstance, seeking out the right advice will leave them free to secure their preferred contracts and concentrate on achieving their ideal work/life balance, safe in the knowledge that all tax and legal arrangements are being taken care of.

By Matt Tyson, managing director at Workr Group