With an abundance of umbrella companies to choose from, finding the right organisation to suit your needs as an agency nurse or a locum doctor might seem a little like searching for a needle in a haystack. With a plethora of perks and promises being hurled your way, it can be difficult to know which umbrella companies you can trust and which ones should be avoided.
In business, it’s all about standing out from the crowd. Umbrella companies will present themselves in a positive light and rarely (if ever) reveal any concerns raised by disgruntled former contractors. This lack of transparency makes your decision that little bit more difficult. So how can you find a reputable umbrella company that will meet your needs?
Searching for an umbrella company
Beginning your search might seem a little daunting, especially if you have limited experience when it comes to dealing with umbrella companies. Luckily, there are three steps that will help pave your way to success in your search for a reputable umbrella company.
Step 1 – Excellent customer service
As a potential customer, umbrella companies will offer you the world and much, much more. However, once you’ve signed on the dotted line, be wary of how you will be treated. Will you be a valued customer or merely a faceless name on a spreadsheet?
It is important to establish whether you can expect to receive a consistently high level of customer service before agreeing to join an umbrella company. Think of it this way; if you urgently need to contact your umbrella company, how likely is it that you will be placed on hold or held in a queue?
Ensure the umbrella company you join is going to meet your needs. If you prefer a personable service from a consultant who is familiar with your situation, or you feel a quick and efficient turnaround period on pay is important, establish whether or not these are available before signing up.
Step 2 – Inflated pay rates
In an effort to entice customers, umbrella companies want to be able to offer the very best rates of take-home pay on the market. However, with income tax and National Insurance needing to be factored in, realistically, doctors and nurses should receive no more than 80 per cent of their gross earnings, meaning the hands of an umbrella company are somewhat tied.
But what about those companies that offer upwards of 90 per cent take-home pay? Well, don’t be fooled by their promises. Failing to pay the correct amount of tax is illegal and the risks of using a non-reputable umbrella company can be severe.
With this in mind, it is advisable to seek independent advice, especially if you think a deal is too good to be true. An advisor should be able to steer you in the direction of an HMRC approved umbrella company.
Step 3 – Umbrella company fees
It is no secret that umbrella companies charge for their services. Fees vary between organisations and can often depend on the benefits they have to offer. However, when a fee is agreed upon it should generally remain consistent throughout your contract and should not be dictated by the amount of money you earn.
It is highly unlikely that it costs more to represent a healthcare professional who earns more money. A reputable umbrella company will agree on a fee and stick to it. Of course, this fee may differ over time due to the increase or decrease in the cost of the umbrella company’s service, but it shouldn’t fluctuate without your prior knowledge.
So which umbrella company should I use?
All reputable umbrella companies offer different levels of service and there are constant shifts in performance. These factors mean that there is no definitive answer when it comes to the question of which umbrella company is best.
What’s more, we are unable to offer guidance on which umbrella company you should use. As our list of umbrella companies is constantly being reviewed and is subject to change, it is impossible for us to endorse any particular umbrella company. It is this impartiality that prevents us from recommending a service.
However, we are able to help in other ways.
Our Approach to Umbrella Companies
We regularly audit all of the umbrella companies with which we work. This helps to ensure a sense of reliability and trustworthiness. Any firm that fails to meet our rigorous compliance procedure is placed on our ‘risk register’ and an exit strategy is agreed upon in line with our umbrella policy.
In an effort to ensure that all of our agency nurses and locum doctors find the right umbrella company, we encourage you to exercise due diligence, review the HMRC guidelines and seek independent advice before reaching a decision.
Find out more
If you would like to find out more about using an umbrella company as an agency nurse or locum doctor, please contact our Finance Compliance Team via email or call +44 (0) 1756 702 226 or 0845 340 876 and select option 1.