Working Freelance.
What You Need To Consider.

1. What is freelancing?

Freelance working is a form of self-employment that allows flexibility in choosing your working pattern. Be it depending on the location of an assignment, the duration, the money on offer or even as simple as the hours required, freelancing offers you the opportunity to make the decisions you want to provide your professional services. The construction industry has always required a flexible workforce and indeed it always will so it’s a fairly safe bet that there will be something out there for you to do depending on your preferences. You’ll hear lots of buzz words and the advantages to working freelance when you speak to people in your network, we’re here to give you an explanation along with a fully transparent appraisal of the freelance world!

2. What are the differences between a permanent job and a freelance assignment?

There is a lot to take into consideration when thinking about the move from permanent employment into freelance work. Little things that you might have taken for granted while working in a permanent job need to be assessed as to how it works in the freelance world. For example, it can be tough to compare temporary rates to permanent salaries, and it will often appear that temporary workers on an assignment earn more than their permanent equivalent. In some cases this is true and in others, it is not. Things to consider include:

  • Rates – Be it daily or hourly
  • Holiday pay
  • Sick pay
  • Pension contributions
  • Company car/allowance
  • Bonus
  • Private health care

Temporary workers provide services either via a daily or hourly rate and we are happy to discuss how these rates are broken down and the various tax payment methods available to each individual for freelance assignments. In truth, working permanent and temporary is a bit like trying to compare apples and oranges – very different ways to work and indeed very different benefits too.

 

3. How likely is it that I will always be in work?

Continuity of work is one of the key motivations for candidates working freelance, and understandably too. Whilst nothing is ever certain, one thing we can take confidence from is the continued investment in Scotland’s infrastructure & building markets which will rely on a flexible workforce to assist in delivering projects. We always look to secure as accurate a confirmation of a contract duration ahead of presenting any options to candidates and will never embellish a duration to a candidate. We pride ourselves in working to provide as much continuity to our freelance workforce as we can and endeavour to secure assignments for our contractors. That being said, we do encourage contractors to plan ahead and be mindful of the natural peaks and troughs of the construction sector as this will inevitably have an impact on volume and duration of requirements.

One of the key things you can do as a freelance worker is to make yourself as flexible as possible, this will allow more options to be available to you.

4. How often will I be paid?

Every Friday on a weekly basis, providing your timesheet is submitted and authorised. Contract Scotland operates a dedicated in-house payroll team within our finance department and utilise a state of the art online timesheet portal system for ease. Our team works tirelessly to ensure that your payment reaches you on time every time, and we are proud to have a 100% pay rate for temps who send their correctly authorised timesheet in by our deadline, which is 12pm every Wednesday. We pay our temporary workers regardless of us being paid by our clients, so you can rest assured that this is not an issue you would need to worry if you were ever to work through us.

Please note that if your timesheet is going to be late for any reason, we ask that you call us to advise of this.

5. What will my rate be?

As our consultants are non-commission based, you can rest assured that we will always provide you with impartial consultative advice around market rates. Contact the freelance team to find out more about the average rates for your role. Some things that can have an influence on rates include market availability, location of assignment, duration of assignment and the sector you operate in.

6. What happens regarding holidays?

Possibly one of the main differences in considering a temporary assignment in comparison to a permanent role. One of the most important factors to consider when working freelance is that when you aren’t providing your services, you aren’t paid. Depending on your chosen tax payment method, you will potentially have accrued holiday pay which you are able to claim throughout a contract to provide continuity of earnings, however broadly speaking we always encourage our freelance workforce to make allowances themselves for any gaps in work

As a courtesy to the client you are providing freelance services to, we would encourage you notify them of any expected holidays or break in contract you wish to take. If working through Contract Scotland, you must also make your Consultant and the payroll team know for timesheet purposes.

7. How do I pay my tax?

Working freelance in the UK offers you the opportunity to work through a variety of tax payment methods, and we are on hand to offer you information on each one and what the assignment you are considering will allow. It is always advisable to seek independent financial advice so you understand the implications of each method, but we are able to provide you a high level overview of each one. Generally speaking, the more common methods are PAYE, Umbrella PAYE, Limited Company and via the CIS scheme. It’s probably worth acknowledging something you’ll hear loads about when considering freelance, “IR35” or more formally known as the “Off Payroll Legislation”, which has changed the landscape of tax payment methods available within the public and private sector, but again we can provide you some background and what options are available.

Tax payments can be tricky, there is no getting away from that. We’ll always look to provide you what information we can but we always encourage you to speak with an independent advisor so you have a full understanding of the implications of each method.

8. IR35 – What is it?

In short, IR35 as it’s more commonly referred to makes reference to a piece of legislation called the Off-Payroll Working Rules. This legislation was originally introduced into the public sector in 2017 and then the private sector in 2021 and has a direct impact on a freelance worker’s tax payment method options in an individual assignment. Contract Scotland has been at the forefront of the changes and helping our client’s navigate through the process, as well as offering our freelance workforce information on the options available to them.

Get in touch with us to understand what options are available to you and the implications surrounding how the legislation impacts your assignment.

9. What do I do regarding a pension?

Depending on your payment method, pensions are available to you while working freelance if you choose to work either PAYE through Contract Scotland or through an umbrella company. If you are working through your own limited company, you will need to make your own arrangements. The auto-enrolment legislation means you will automatically be opted into a pension scheme after 12 weeks of a single assignment through PAYE or Umbrella PAYE payment methods unless you opt out.

10. What is my notice period?

Whereas you may be under a month or three month notice in a permanent staff role, a standard contractual notice period is day to day for the first week of a contract assignment and then one week after that, which is triggerable by either party for any reason.

11. Do I get expenses?

It is nearly always a temporary workers responsibility to get to and from their place of work, but one of the great things about working freelance is the choice of location. Some temporary workers like to work on assignments closer to home while others enjoy the ability to work all over Scotland. Travel expenses typically tend to come into effect when a temporary worker is required to go around sites/offices as part of their daily duties, required to travel long distances or to stay away from home. The rates will be agreed with the client prior to the contract commencing and are usually reimbursed through the weekly timesheet system.

Any expenses can only be paid out if they are already included in your contract. If you are likely to incur expenses you need to discuss this with your Consultant and wait for an amended contact before submitting these.

PLEASE NOTE RECEIPTS MUST BE PROVIDED.

In Summary

Advantages

  • Which companies you want to work with
  • Which projects you want to work on
  • When you want to work and for how long
  • Where you want to work
  • Rates/Income
  • Potential to gain a wider breadth of experience

Disadvantages

  • One week notice period
  • No guarantee of continuity of work
  • Personal development – self-employed people have an obligation to make provision for their own training and site qualifications.
  • No car allowance or employee benefits
  • “Dropping in” – more often than not, freelance workers are brought in to deliver a specific task and then move on.

As you have probably guessed, things can vary greatly when working on a freelance basis and clearly it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but whether you’re ready to dive straight in or merely dip your toe to test the water, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

We can also arrange for you to speak to one of our long-term temporary workers to ask them about their real life experiences or for advice and tips. You can also download our perm to freelance case study here.

Ready To Take The Next Step?

We can help support your transition into becoming a freelance worker. Simply follow the relevant sector link(s) below to find the best contact as well as to view a selection of live vacancies.

Alternatively, you can fill in your details below and a member of our team will be in touch.

Contact Us
I can confirm I agree to the terms and conditions