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Once you want to start work as a contractual professional, you would have various employment options to opt from. The most likely consideration is either working by setting up a direct contract with an agency (PAYE) or alternatively through an Umbrella company; each alternative has its own strengths and limitations.


With PAYE, you become a direct contractor of the Agency and you are paid directly by your agency through their payroll system. In PAYE payroll system, you will not be entitled for claiming in any of your business or professional expenses to reduce your tax liability and hence, you end up paying full tax and NI contributions on your gross earnings. You will also need to make sure to change your agencies with change of your assignment.


  • Ideal for occasional contracts
  • It is one of the simplest payroll model; you just need to sign the contracts and then submit your timesheets periodically


  • You will be tied to one agency
  • Need to undergo a lot of statutory procedures for your limited company as contractor and to set of your tax and NI liabilities.
  • You cannot claim business expenses and may therefore pay higher tax and NI
  • You may be offered a lower rate of pay to cover the costs the agency incurs in running a payroll service and they have to pay Employers NI on your behalf to HMRC
  • If you wish to work for multiple agencies you will be issued with multiple tax codes; this can make it hard to keep a track of the amount of tax you are supposed to pay at the end of the financial year.

Umbrella Company

With Umbrella Company, you become a permanent employee of the umbrella company, like a normal employee of any other company. This reduces all the administrative duties associated with contracting and hence your time can only be devoted for your professional duties. The umbrella company issues invoices on your behalf, collects payments from your agencies and end clients, calculates tax and NI contributions and pays you directly in your personal bank account.


  • No start up and termination fees.
  • No invoice and general administrative requirements.
  • No fees or charges during your sabbatical period.
  • Reduces the cost of start up of your limited company.
  • Ability to claim TAX Relief on relevant expenses.
  • Just submit your timesheet and standard expense form and leave rest hassle on Umbrella Co
  • Enjoy all statutory employee rights like holiday pay, maternity pay and paternity pay, etc.
  • Stay out of any IR35 risks
  • The rate of pay you are offered may be higher than if you select the agency’s PAYE option because they are passing on the Employers NI to your umbrella company.


  • Cannot opt for Umbrella company, if you work at the same work place longer than 24-months
  • To reduce your tax liabilities, you need to be obtaining and sending original receipts of relevant with expense forms
  • HMRC strictly controls what can be claimed as legitimate expenses
  • The umbrella company will take a small share of the profit you make to pay for their service to reduce your administrative hassles and tax liabilities.
  • The benefits of Umbrella company option are only scalable to an extent of your claim of legitimate expenses.

Contact to get the expert advice to maximize your earnings

If you are uncertain of what is the best option for you, please call us on or email us at and we can undertake a free, no obligation consultation and take home pay comparison for you.


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