Umbrella companies – finding the good guys and calling out the bad
At Liquid Friday we heartily support the work of Offpayroll.org.uk - a review website with a difference. It invites contractors to share their experiences, through candid reviews, to help others find fairer clients and partners for their assignments.
Comparing umbrella companies
In a previous blog, we highlighted HMRC’s warning that “comparison and broker websites marketing umbrella companies are not always what they seem”.
They caution that high rankings of some umbrella companies on comparison sites are down to their claims to give a higher take home pay, when what is really being promoted is a tax avoidance scheme.
In contrast, Offpayroll.org.uk looks at 2 very specific criteria to rank organisations in the contractor supply chain, including umbrella companies. Firstly, their approach to IR35, and consequently, how they dealt with Covid-19 and furloughing.
What is Offpayroll.org.uk?
We asked one of its founders, James Poyser, about the concept and inspiration behind the website. He explains:
“OffPayroll.org.uk was set up as a site to allow contractors to find clients who are assessing IR35 fairly, and call out those who aren't. We know that IR35 is proving to be hard to implement, resulting in hundreds of end clients simply banning PSCs (regardless of working practices) and forcing contractors to use umbrellas.
Contrary to the glossy marketing messages used by some umbrella companies, umbrella contractors have limited rights and protections, despite paying employee and employer taxes. That's why they're often known as "zero rights employees".
This has rapidly and magnificently come to a head with COVID-19. It has proved to be a watershed moment that has called out the subset of umbrellas firms that deliver style over substance, and put short term profits ahead of relationships with contractors. It's also highlighted the excellent, decisive and clearly communicated actions taken by many of the smaller umbrella operators, who have balanced commercial risk, the value of their relationships with contractors, and the morality of the situation.
That's why we've updated Offpayroll.org.uk to allow contractors to record feedback of how their umbrella has performed. It is now clear that a key question future contractors will ask when selecting an umbrella will be "how did they manage COVID-19?". Offpayroll.org.uk will be a lasting reference point allowing contractors to understand the integrity of different umbrella companies long after COVID-19 has passed.”
Make Friday the new normal
Liquid Friday has, and continues to support hundreds of contractors every week with our furlough scheme.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll all be adapting to a “new normal”. This won’t be without its challenges but please rest assured that we’ll be there to support contractors, agencies and clients every step of the way.