Five contractor care tips for umbrella companies

Looking after their employees is something every umbrella company SHOULD be doing, writes Lucy Smith, managing director of Clarity Umbrella. So here are five things that contractors ought to be getting, as standard, assuming that their brolly cares!  

 1. Rapid if not respectable response times

All calls and emails should be responded to in a timely manner, and this should be standard no matter the size of umbrella company.

Ultimately, we are looking after your money, so you want to know that you’re in safe, capable hands. And that means, as an umbrella, not letting your contractors sit waiting forever for your reply, or being placed on hold, or being passed from pillar to post!

2. Full and frank advice (without so much as a sigh)

There are so many things that a contractor quite understandably needs to know when starting work through an umbrella company, so explaining the process thoroughly at the outset is a must.

Whether that means talking a contractor through the complications of having an active limited company while in umbrella employment, answering queries about a P45, or chatting about holiday pay, the brolly should be up for doing this in a full, frank, and patient way.

3. Equality

I always like to think ‘you get what you pay for’ in this life! But running a compliant umbrella company does come at substantial cost and, as such, our ethos is that everyone pays the same, so there is no favouritism.                                                                                                                 

Differing levels of margin, giving different levels of service and even differing response times based on what umbrella ‘package’ your on? All that seems absurd. One margin, same service, and everyone is treated the same is how to do it.

The only caveat, perhaps, is to let employees select ‘bolts-ons’ should they be partial to bells and whistles. But the overall level of customer service should be uniform (and good), for everyone, no matter what the individual contractor is paying.

4. Same-day payments, surely

In general, same-day payments should be a no-brainer! Money comes in from the agency and the umbrella runs the payroll -- it’s actually not quite that simple, but that’s certainly the gist.

Problematically, if the umbrella is only running the payroll once a week, then they will be making their contractors wait for their hard-earned cash. 

Ideally, same-day -- and fast pay -- should be a given. Staggering payments by paying via BACs may be cheaper, but it delays those funds getting straight into the employees’ bank accounts.

5. Treating nobody as a number

I’ve posted to LinkedIn in the past about the need for umbrella companies to be understanding of circumstances. You never really deeply know someone’s personal situation.

The best brollies look after contractors by not treating them like a ‘number.’ Our own approach is not to just churn ‘you’ through the system, although it can mistakenly happen.

Similarly, the brolly you want shows understanding if issues arise your end, as a contractor, and we try to do the same for agencies too. After all, we’re all only human!

As a brolly boss, my stance is to always try and be accommodating with our employees as long as there is no detriment to anyone else.

Lastly, who cares about these five umbrella care tips?

So, should all umbrella companies be doing these five? Yes! Do they? Well, that’s down to you as the contractor to find out by doing your homework BEFORE you sign on the dotted line!

Wednesday 22nd Nov 2023
Profile picture for user Lucy Smith

Written by Lucy Smith

Lucy has over 9 years extensive experience in the umbrella market, much of this time spent managing one of the most reputable umbrella companies in the market and now, Clarity Umbrella.
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