In this section you’ll find answers to the most common questions we’re asked by contractors. If we haven’t answered your question please do get in touch, call 01923 751 517 or email us.

Contractor Umbrella FAQ’s

About Umbrellas

Joining Meades Umbrella

Working with agencies

Getting paid

Using the Meades Umbrella Portal

Statutory payments

Tax, Deductions and HMRC

Insurance

Using the Meades Umbrella Portal

About Umbrellas

What is an Umbrella and why do I need one?

In 2017 HMRC changed which entity is responsible for determining IR35 contract status in the public sector, in 2020 the private sector will follow suit. These changes mean that contractors may need an umbrella service to work alongside and in conjunction with their accountant.

Meades Umbrella will employ you, and then contract your services via an agency or directly with the end client.

This gives you the flexibility and independence of contracting, and the end client of your services peace of mind that they are protected from any IR35 risk and any employment obligations to you as an employee.

You will pay a fee to Meades Umbrella for each payslip you require.

This is how it works:

What Is A Contractor Umbrella

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How does an umbrella work?

When HMRC placed the burden on end-users to determine the IR35 status of contracts, it became necessary to offer an alternative to directly contracting through an agency or with an end-user. An umbrella is the answer.

An umbrella acts as an intermediary between you (the contractor), and the end-user of your services. Often an agency will sit between the end-user of your services and the umbrella.

This protects the end-user of your services from responsibilities as an employer and it allows you, the contractor, to maintain independence to choose your contracts.

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Do you really need a qualified accountant when using an Umbrella? YES!

Working with a qualified accountant who can take a holistic view of your remuneration will help you make more money and sleep soundly at night.

An unqualified person cannot help you answer the questions that will make you wealthier. Not sure what we mean? Check out the myth busters here – and these are just a handful of queries our ACCA accredited team can help you with.

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Joining Meades Umbrella

How do I join Meades Umbrella?

The sign-up process is simple. Fill in your details here and a member of the team will be in touch.

We will check your details and email you a link to the Meades Umbrella Portal.

The email will include your username and a temporary password, which you will be prompted to change when you first sign in.

Note: For security, copy/paste will not work on the login screen, please type your username and password.

You can complete your application through the portal.

To make your application quick and easy, please have these documents and details to hand:

  • Proof of your national insurance number
  • 2 forms of photo ID to confirm your identity
  • 2 documents that prove your current address
  • Your personal bank account details

To complete the application, you will need to accept the 3 declarations requests at the end.

The Meades Umbrella team will review your application and call you if any further information is required. This process will take no longer than 3 working days. If you need your application to be fast-tracked, please call the team on 01923 751 517 and we will do our best to help.

When all vetting checks have been completed, we will email you prompting you to login to your portal and review your Employment Agreement. Please read this with diligence and care, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us. Once you are satisfied with the agreement, simply sign and accept the declaration at the top of the document.

Once your Employment Agreement has been signed you’re officially part of the Meades Umbrella family!

The portal is available to you 24/7/365 to access your timesheets and payment updates.

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Working with agencies

Is my contract with the end-user of my services or an agency?

You will be an employee of Meades Umbrella and Meades Umbrella will contract your services to the end client or agency.

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Can I work with more than one agency?

Yes.

Your agencies will pay us and we will combine all payments onto a single payslip.

You will be able to see all payments received from each agency within the Meades Umbrella Portal.

You will be charged a fixed weekly or monthly fee for each pay period. For example, if you are paid for two separate weeks on the same pay day, you will be charged twice as it will be two different pay periods but this will be shown on the one payslip.

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Do I have to use the umbrella my agency recommends?

No. As an independent contractor you should be free to use the umbrella of your choosing. If your agency insist you use a specific umbrella please get in touch, we’ll be happy to give your agency a call to discuss.

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Why does my agency want to see my payslips?

This is a standard procedure as agencies are regularly audited by end-clients. They need to be able to prove the correct tax and NI deductions are being made.

We will only share your payslips information with an agency with your consent.

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I’ve changed agency – what do I need to do?

Simply drop us an email umbrella@meadescontractors.co.uk with your new agency details. Please include your consultant’s name, telephone number and email address so we can get in touch and set things up for you.

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What is the compliance pack you send to agencies?

A compliance pack is all the information an agency or end-client will ask us for to check the validity of our umbrella. We are transparent with our contractors and you’re welcome to download a copy of our compliance pack here.

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Getting paid

When will I be paid?

As soon as we receive funds from your agency (or end client) we will process the payment to you. If monies are received before 2.30pm Monday to Thursday, or 3pm on Friday, the payment to you will go to you same day. For monies received after these times or at the weekend the payment will be sent next working day.

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How often will I be paid?

Payments are processed daily. As soon as we receive funds from your agency or end-user client, we will process payment to you. See also ‘When will I be paid

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Should I use a pay calculator to work out my pay?

Contractor Calculator

Take-home pay calculators give you an indication of take-home pay, however, they don’t consider your income in the tax year from your limited company or other sources.

Online calculators alone should not be used to compare Umbrella services. Here’s why:

The calculation of tax and National Insurance will be the same regardless of which umbrella you choose. You may see different results on different calculators, this is because of the parameters used – one calculator might default to a 40-hour week, another 37.5 hours, some include their fees, others do not.

Our team will be able to give you an accurate take-home pay figure. Simply give them a call on 01923 751 517.

If you want an indication of your take-home pay, you can use the Meades Umbrella calculator by clicking the button below:

Use The Meades Umbrella Calculator

 

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Will I be worse off?

The short answer is yes, however, the Meades Umbrella offers you the best value remuneration. Here’s how:

With end clients responsible for determining your contract status, many companies have made the decision to only hire contractors via an umbrella. This means you will need to be an employee of an umbrella, paying tax and National Insurance just like any other employee, as well as paying a fee for each pay period (weekly or monthly). This is not as tax efficient as paying yourself via your personal service company (PSC).

You may be thinking that your PSC is no longer required and to shut it down, but I would urge you to talk to our team before making this decision. Meades Umbrella is different. We give you access to qualified accountants who can guide you in creating the optimal remuneration package for your situation.

We also allow you to switch between contracting via Meades Umbrella and using our regular accountancy services supporting your PSC – it is the best of both worlds. Helping you to make the most out of contracting.

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Do I have to pay a management fee?

Yes. Meades Umbrella is committed to transparency. Our fees for payslips are below:

Per weekly payslip: £29

Per monthly payslip: £110

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Can I be paid at a specific time?

Sadly, no. All of our payments are processed manually by the team.

We work through the bank in order of payments received. When the agency pay us and funds leave their account it is beyond their control and ours as to when we actually receive the funds.

We make several payment runs throughout the day to get your money to you as quickly as possible.

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My agency has paid but I haven’t received payment

Most payments are received within hours thanks to faster payments through the banking system, however, some agencies still use BACS payments which can take up to 3 working days.

When your portal shows ‘Receipted’ next to the payment you will know that we have received monies and are processing payment to you.

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Why has my pay changed?

A change in hours submitted on your timesheet is the most common reason for a change in your pay. Please login to the Meades Umbrella Portal and check your timesheets. If there are any errors or queries, please give us a call and we’ll help you to resolve these with your agency.

A change in tax code can cause your pay to change. Your tax code and deductions are detailed on your payslips – login to the Meades Umbrella Portal to compare your current and previous payslips.

If we receive more than one payment for you in a week or month additional tax may be deducted. Depending on your tax code, if it is cumulative then it will balance out over the course of the year.

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Can I monitor payments in the Meades Umbrella Portal?

Yes. Payments received from your Agency or End-User-Client are shown in your portal.

If your payments shows a status of ‘Sent to Agency’ we have not yet received funds. We receive funds throughout the day and as soon as our team have reconciled the incoming payment with your account the status will change to ‘Receipted’.

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Using the Meades Umbrella Portal

How to submit a timesheet

Most agencies are self-billing which means you will send your timesheet directly to the agency and they will pay us based on your authorised timesheet.

If your agency requires a weekly or monthly invoice from us you will also need to submit your timesheet through the Meades Umbrella Portal.

Meades Umbrella Portal Instructions:

  • Login
  • Click Add Timesheet or Raise New Expense
  • Click Raise New Timesheet
  • Select the client (your agency name)
  • Select the week/month ending date
  • Input the hours/days worked to Unit Total
    • Note: Referral fees or bonuses can be added as a separate line item by clicking Add Timesheet or Miscellaneous Payments.
  • Click Preview Timesheet and check the details
  • Click Submit Timesheets

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How to submit an expense

Expenses are recorded separately to timesheets.

Meades Umbrella Portal Instructions:

  • Login
  • Click Add Timesheet or Raise New Expense
  • Click Raise New Expense
  • Enter all the details
  • Click Preview Expense and check the details
  • Click Submit Expense

The Meades Umbrella team will raise an invoice to your agency. When the agency has paid this will show in your portal as ‘receipted’ and the team will process a payment to you.

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My timesheet shows ‘sent to agency’, what does that mean?

The payment of the invoice has not yet been processed.

If you do not raise timesheets on our portal (because your agency is self-billing), but you can see a timesheet for the period this means that your agency have sent us a breakdown of your monies and we are waiting to receive the payment.

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Statutory payments


Do I get sick pay?

Yes. As an employee of Meades Umbrella you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SPP).

If you are off sick for 4 consecutive days (including non-working days) please notify us by email (umbrella@meadescontractors.co.uk).

If you are off sick for more than 7 consecutive days (including non-working days) you will need a fit-note from your doctor, this can also be called a ‘sick-note’ or ‘Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report’.

Further information on eligibility for SPP can be found on Gov.uk

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Will I receive maternity pay?

Once you have completed 26 weeks continuous employment with us you will quality for maternity pay.

Your doctor or midwife will provide you with a Mat1B. You need to send this to us at least 15 weeks before your due date. When we receive this our team will calculate how much maternity pay you will be entitled to.

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Tax, Deductions and HMRC

Do I have to pay Employers National Insurance?

Yes. The Umbrella takes care of this for you, however, you should be aware of the cost and factor this into your contract.

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My tax code has changed – what do I do?

Your tax code is issued directly by HMRC and is out of our control. You can contact HMRC to discuss your current tax code and ask for it to be reviewed and/or changed.

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I don’t understand my tax code – can you help?

Tax codes are issued directly from HMRC, we have no control over this. Our system regularly checks if your tax code is changed and automatically allocates the latest code to your payslips.
If you have recently moved to Meades Umbrella please send us your P45, or ask us for a New Starter form. This will help HMRC stay up to date with your current employment status.

You can learn more about your tax code here https://www.gov.uk/tax-codes.

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Do I pay tax on bonuses or referral fees?

Any payments received during your contract will be processed through the Umbrella and will be subject to tax. These payments will be added to the PAYE calculation we do on your behalf. E.g. if you are paid £300 as a bonus you will not receive the full amount in your pay – it will be subject to tax and relevant deductions.

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What is IR35?

IR35 (officially called Intermediaries Legislation) was brought into Law in April 2000. It is a piece of anti-avoidance legislation which was designed to stop individual who are employees operating through Limited Companies and making significant tax and national insurance savings in the process.

IR35 seeks to identify situations where a hypothetical contract of employment exists between the individual and the end user client or agency. If a hypothetical employment contract is found to exist, then IR35 applies and the employment is subject to the standard tax and national insurance deductions.

Historically it was the responsibility of the contractor (or individual) to determine if the contract was inside or outside of IR35. In 2017 HMRC moved the responsibility for determining IR35 status from the contractor to the end user of the services for contracts in the public sector. From April 2020 this will be extended to include contracts in the private sector too.

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Why is there a Smart Pension deduction on my payslip?

As your employer, we are required by law to enrol you into a pension scheme.

We defer enrolment for 3 months, and you will be emailed throughout this period. When we have enrolled you, we will send you an email explaining how to opt-out should you wish to do so.

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How much will my pension contributions be?

With regards to our pension scheme, you will be auto-enrolled with NEST at the standard rate of 5% for employee, and 3% for employer. As an umbrella contractor, you will be liable to cover the employee and employer pension deductions, that means you are getting a full 8% contribution to your pension.

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Do I need to do a Self-Assessment?

If you have just worked as an employee of our company or another umbrella company with no other income, the answer is probably no but will depend on your personal circumstances. You will have your P60 at the end of each tax year.

You need to complete a Self-Assessment if you:

  • Are Self Employed
  • Are a Company Director (unless you have no tax to pay)
  • Have Rental Income
  • Have received any Untaxed Income – this includes stocks and shares.

You will need to declare any other income that you have received, along with the information provided on your P60.

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Why is there VAT on my invoice?

We are a VAT registered company so all money that the agency sends us for your work must have VAT added on top. When we receive this money, it doesn’t affect your rate of pay at all, VAT is paid to the government as we are legally required to do.

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Insurance

Are all insurances paid for?

As your employer Meades Umbrella must have all insurances in place.

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General queries

When are you open?

Our standard hours are Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm UK time.

If you need to reach us outside of these hours you can arrange a call at a time convenient to you by emailing umbrella@meadescontractors.co.uk and we will do our best to accommodate you.

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I’m taking a break – what do I need to do?

Contracting is a flexible choice and we understand that contractors will take breaks between contracts.

Simply drop us an email (umbrella@meadescontractors.co.uk) and let us know you’re taking a break. We’ll make a note on your account.

When you return, please give us a call to reactivate your account.

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My details have changed, what should I do?

If you change agency, or your personal information changes, such as your address or telephone number please give us a call as soon as possible. We will update your records for you.

We want to help you get paid as quickly as possible, so it is very important that we are made aware of any changes to your bank account. Please note: Payments we make cannot be reversed and failure to inform us of a change of banking details could result in lost or significantly delayed payments.

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How can I get my P45?

Please drop us an email (umbrella@meadescontractors.co.uk) with a note of your last payment due date and we will send your P45 after this date.

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I want to get a mortgage – can you help?

We are not mortgage brokers or advisers, but we will be happy to introduce you to trusted advisors who have helped other contractor clients to obtain a mortgage. Simply give us a call.

As part of your mortgage application you will be asked to provide historical payslips and employment information. We will be happy to write to your lender confirming how long you have worked with us and details of your current contract.

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Learn more about Meades Umbrella here