Product training paid by client vs IR35 Product training paid by client vs IR35
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  1. #1

    Nervous Newbie


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    Question Product training paid by client vs IR35

    Long time lurker here, I've done some reasearch on this, but couldn't get a definitive answer, so thought I'd double check here.

    I'm currently working for a client through a limited company and performing a full system upgrade for a fairly big control system (I'm a control systems engineering consultant). The system is divided into two parts, programable logic controllers (PLCs), the stuff I'm responsible for, and a human machine interface system (HMI), stuff that the client devs work on (all permies, I'm the only contractor here). Both parts talk to each other as the HMI displays what's in the PLCs and the PLCs read what's being done on the HMI (very basic explanation). The upgrade covers updating the hardware for the PLCs staying with the same manufacturer, but moving away from the current HMI dev package and switching to another vendor for that. Client is currently going through the motions to send the devs on a week long basic training course to get everyone familiar with the new HMI software product and as it stands now I'm included as well.

    Now obviously the above raises IR35 concerns. I don't need the training for my day to day tasks, but it would be good to have from a skill point of view and I do interface with the HMI, so it definitely wouldn't make things worse. I've not discussed this with the client yet as I want to know what options I have, I have raised this with a few contracting collegues of mine and here's an options list:

    1) Pay for the training myself and bill the client for the hours attended (training cost is roughly two weekly invoices)

    2) Let the client pay for the training but don't bill them for the hours attended (as training is a week long it would be less expensive than option 1) )

    3) Pay for the lot myself (ie. don't invoice for hours and pay for training myself)

    4) Politely decline and not do the training at all

    5) Look the other way, take what's being given and don't give a sh*t about IR35

    Feel free to shout and beat me with a stick if something isn't exactly smart.

    Any ideas on what might be best are more than welcome.

    Cheers,
    T.

  2. #2

    More time posting than coding


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    Go on training at their cost, invoice your time as normal, make sure you have IR35 insurance in place (ipse/qdos) relax and forget about such a minor pointer

  3. #3

    More time posting than coding


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    be good to have from a skill point of view
    How complex/specialist is this skill?
    If it's very complex then you'd have to be brave to take on a future contract that requires that skill just based on 1 week's basic training. So it wouldn't be worth much.
    This + if it's giving you IR35 jitters then I wouldn't take it.

  4. #4

    Double Godlike!


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    5 - it's such a minor since they require you to attend it to complete your contract deliverables.
    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist

  5. #5

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    I've got Qdos IR35 investigation insurance, so that's a plus I actually asked them what their opinion is on this and they said that theoretically I shouldn't go, but if it's beneficial I could pay for it myself and not invoice for the time spent on it. They also highlighted the fact that on it's own it's not enough to push the whole gig into IR35, so it's all down to taking a (what seems like a minor) risk.

    In case I decide to pay for it, does anyone know whether it makes any difference if the full training cost is paid or whether I can simply agree to pay my client £### (less than what the 3rd party charges) for it just to differentiate myself from permies who get it for free? I cocked up already a few months back and sat through an Agile training at client offices, but I'm brushing that under the "new work practices training required for going forward" rug.

    @PTP it is really more of a product training (similar to say Outlook training, assuming you could script code in Outlook), so you can learn it on the job, but of course a proper training gives you a bit more. Overall the whole package allows you to put together mimics / control screens which are then scripted to do what you want, talk to hardware etc. There's several big players on the market which offer this but each package is different, so you need some training to understand where things are, once you know how to set up comms drivers etc. you can code away. Training won't teach you how to script as that depends on project specifics but will teach you were all the required tools / settings are. This is the main reason why I stuck "product training" in the thread subject as on it's own it is really useless unless you know how to script and understand PLCs / HMIs.

  6. #6

    Contractor Among Contractors


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    Are you going to be more productive / efficient in the service you provide your client if you go to this training?

    If so, and if your client is helpful, ask your client to write a letter to Mr DSC at DSC Ltd, saying that they are providing this training to their staff and they believe it will increase the value of the service DSC Ltd is providing to their project if they have someone who also has this training. As a result, Client Co is offering to pay for one of your staff to attend the training. Draft the letter for them and make sure it doesn't say 'for you to attend the training' but 'one of your staff.' The risk will be low anyway, but this should reduce it. It is explicitly stated that you are attending for their benefit, not yours, and implicitly endorsing the substitution principle.

    If it isn't really going to make any difference to their project, then the risk is higher. In that case, they are doing this because you are 'one of the team' and they are starting to see you as part and parcel. If you are investigated, this training may not be mentioned but a client with that mindset is likely to say things that would be unhelpful, and if the training is brought up in an investigation it might be one more nail in your coffin.

    If you think that is happening, you can use this as an opportunity to differentiate yourself, as a reminder to the client. The cost of losing an IR35 case is a lot higher than any of your first three options.

    To differentiate, you certainly don't have to do your suggestion #3. You can either offer to pay something for the training, or not invoice for your time that week. Employees do not pay anything for the training and will be paid for all of their time. Anything you do to differentiate yourself from that will probably be sufficient.

    Even if there is value to their project in you having the training, you might decide there isn't THAT much value, and use it to differentiate yourself anyway. Write your contact something like, 'I appreciate the opportunity. I can see value to your project in my attendance at this training, and so I will be taking it up. However, it is hard for me to see that the full training is really of value to you, so I will only be invoicing for my time for three of the five days.' You give up two or three days of invoicing for a strong anti-IR35 pointer, could be well worth it.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by WordIsBond View Post
    Even if there is value to their project in you having the training, you might decide there isn't THAT much value, and use it to differentiate yourself anyway. Write your contact something like, 'I appreciate the opportunity. I can see value to your project in my attendance at this training, and so I will be taking it up. However, it is hard for me to see that the full training is really of value to you, so I will only be invoicing for my time for three of the five days.' You give up two or three days of invoicing for a strong anti-IR35 pointer, could be well worth it.
    This suggestion I like. It's an expensive way to do it though, so a token 1 day would be better IMO.

    In the past I've done remediation work for free for my client. Usually bits and piece on a weekend or an evening. I write to them saying that I'll do this work gratis to correct a mistake made earlier. I get another bit of IR35 defense evidence for that contract for very little outlay.
    In most cases it's not necessarily my mistake that's being fixed but that's not in the evidence.
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  8. #8

    Still gathering requirements...


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    The other option I've used in the past (and this requires you to have a good working relationship with the client and procurement - which you should anyway as you are a business).

    Refuse their kind offer of training but agree with them that it would be beneficial. Arrange to attend the course and get qualified - bill no training cost or days to the client.

    However before you go agree a contract variation that ups your contractual rate by £x per day such that you would recoup the cost in six months.

    This way you've increased your skillset, made yourself more marketable and (assuming you don't get binned) covered the cost. It's what all the "real" personal services companies do

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