I am available for locum work but I don’t have my own limited company – will I have to work on a PAYE basis?
in Careers Advice, Legal Profession

I am available for locum work but I don’t have my own limited company – will I have to work on a PAYE basis?

Nothing could be further from the truth, but this was something that was raised today by one of our locums, a fairly new locum to us that we had not worked with before. She was under the impression that because she did not have her own umbrella company or limited company, she would be unable to work as a self-employed locum and would instead need to be a temporary employee.

Locum Agencies Selling Umbrellas?

I suspect the confusion comes because of all the different locum agencies these days cross-selling services of umbrella companies, and requiring their locums to either work via an umbrella company provider they themselves have introduced, or to become temporary employees on the locum agency’s payroll.

Here at Interim Lawyers and Ten Percent we don’t employ locums ourselves, but instead we have self-employed locums who work directly for our clients and invoice them on a weekly basis. The locums are responsible for their own tax & national insurance contributions and they will complete a self assessment form with HMRC at the end of the year. Some will have their own limited companies for putting their work through and others will work solely on a self-employed basis. We make introductions and get paid by our clients directly.

Just because you are not set up with a limited company and not paying an umbrella company for the privilege of them dealing with a few pieces of paper for you every year, you are not precluded from providing this type of service.

Self Employed Status – Easy to Set Up

It is a simple matter becoming self-employed; you simply wake up in the morning and decide that you’re self-employed. In fact if you want to you can say to yourself, “I am self-employed”, and that’s you done. The only other thing you need to do though is to notify HMRC that you have made this decision. The HMRC website also has two guides available on becoming self-employed and working for yourself, as well as all the things you need to do, which are not exactly very many. Link is here: https://www.gov.uk/set-up-self-employed

At the end of the year you will experience the pleasure, possibly for the first time, of filling out a self-assessment tax form, but this is a very simple thing to do and does not take much effort at all if you only have one source of income and you haven’t done a lot of work in any event.

And that’s pretty much it.

You simply invoice your client at the end of each week for any work that you have done on their behalf and get paid three days later. Your clients are happy because you are providing a speedy, swift service that does not involve much administration, and you are happy because you are getting paid regularly. Locuming does not have to be complicated, although all of the above is of course affected by IR35 when working for larger companies or the public sector…

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.ten-percent.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk