Am I entitled to holiday and sick pay as a Limited Company contractor?

Holiday and sick pay – what is your entitlement?

Contracting through a Limited Company has a number of advantages – from higher take home pay to lower tax payments. But being a Limited Company contractor also means having to crunch the numbers to give yourself some breathing space when it comes to taking time off work – planned and otherwise. We’ve put together some handy hints to help you do just that. Ready to exhale?

 

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Okay, we’re still some way off Christmas, but the summer season is in full swing. Now is as good a time as any to ensure that all your holiday plans are covered, so that Tenerife package holiday you’ve been eyeing up on TripAdvisor doesn’t end up leaving you out of pocket.

As a Limited Company contractor, you don’t qualify for the same holiday and sick pay as a permanent employee. Since you’re not directly employed by your clients (but rather by your own Limited Company), you’re expected to fund these benefits from your Limited Company.

 

Scheduled time off – holiday leave

Burning the candle at both ends almost always leads to one thing – burnout – which can not only harm your health, but hit your purse strings too.

 

Prevention is better than cure, so to safeguard your personal wellbeing and professional longevity in the contracting stakes, you should schedule a well-deserved break from time to time.

 

Theoretically, working as a Limited Company contractor means you can enjoy the freedom of booking holidays whenever it takes your fancy, but this is tempered by the harsh reality that, when you don’t work, you don’t get paid (not by your clients anyway).

 

While taking leave from work will see your finances take a temporary hit, this is preferable to developing a permanent health problem. After all, it’s a lot easier to recover your finances than to restore your health.

 

Unscheduled time off – such as sick leave or bereavement

Package holidays in Tenerife aside, there will inevitably be occasions when you’re unable to work – for example, when you’re feeling under the weather or a close friend or relative dies.

 

If an employee has to take time off work through sickness, they can claim £88.45 per week in Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks. As a contractor (and employee of your Limited Company), you can too. Once upon a time, your Limited Company could foot the bill for the cost of your sick pay and you could recover it from HMRC, but this practice has long since been discontinued.

 

As a Limited Company contractor, SSP is a far cry from how much you’d likely earn on a weekly basis and probably wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to carry you through a period of long-term illness. Additional – more substantial – financial provision is needed.

 

1. Build a good bounty in your Limited Company bank account

Taking time off work will ultimately cost your business. So, you need to count the cost. When planning your annual leave, remember to throw in 10 days or so for unexpected leave (such as illness, bereavement and such) and be sure to factor in the eight Bank Holidays we have each year.

 

With the average holiday entitlement standing at just over five weeks, this will leave you with a shade of over 44 weeks to work every year, which should be used as a starting point to setting your rates. Then, you can work out how much salary and dividends you need to pay yourself from your Limited Company to cover the cost of your annual holiday and sick leave.

 

At Intouch, we routinely advise our clients to “set aside at least four weeks out of their annual contractor take home pay to ensure they’ll have enough time for holidays, birthdays, potential sickness and general time off.”

 

2. Insure yourself to the hilt

When you’re partnered with the right package, insurance can be a Limited Company contractor’s best friend.

 

In terms of covering the bases of holidays and sickness, there are two main kinds of insurance cover that you’d be wise to consider taking out:

  • Income protection insurance replaces your income with a monthly payout in the event that you’re unable to work due to an accident, ill health or unemployment
  • Critical illness cover pays out a tax-free lump if, during the term of the policy, you’re diagnosed with a specific illness or medical condition listed in your policy document

 

When you’re in the market for Limited Company contractor insurance, regular insurance firms may not provide you with the cover best suited to your circumstances.

 

This is where we come in. Here at Intouch, our accountants have a good working knowledge of Limited Company contractor insurance products, insurance providers and the insurance industry as a whole. They’re on hand to advise you on the best insurance firms to approach for a quote (spoiler alert: our insurance provider of choice is Kingsbridge Insurance).

 

Contact us today for a no-obligation chat about your work situation.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

2014 changes to statutory sick pay

2014 changes to statutory sick pay

One of the lesser known changes in this year’s Budget relates to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) brought in partly due to the rather bizarre belief that the old system provided no encouragement for an employer to get an employee back into work.

SSP is a legal requirement and is paid to employees for up to 28 weeks at a rate of £87.55 per week if they are off work due to illness.  As an employee of a Limited Company you would be entitled to this, provided you earn at least £111 a week and are classed as an employee (there’s another discussion to be had there around being an employee and therefore being paid National Minimum Wage, but we’ll leave that one for another blog…!)

The SSP payment is taxable, is paid the same as any normal salary, and only starts when the employee has been sick for 4 or more days.  The employer then used to be able to reclaim this via their PAYE scheme as long as the SSP exceeded 13% of the gross NI in the same month (known as the percentage threshold scheme).  No more.

The Government have concluded that the scheme was used by 100,000 employers at a cost of £50 million to the Exchequer, which could be better spent by establishing a state funded “Health and Work Assessment and Advisory Service” that will provide access to independent occupational health experts and support employees retuning to work, after they’ve been off for 4 weeks or more.  What they seem to have missed is that this will really only hit small employers, who could find their overall employment costs increase a great deal if they have staff off sick and then also have to pay temporary staff to cover.

Even if you are entitled to SSP it’s a good idea to get separate protection in place as the amount you’ll receive is not likely to cover your household bills!

For more information please speak to your contractor accountant for guidance.

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Sick pay, maternity pay and paternity pay

Sick pay, maternity pay and paternity pay

What can you claim? How long do you have to work for your company before you’re entitled to claim, and what are the alternatives if you’ve not worked long enough?

As a Limited Company contractor, if you fall ill and are unable to work the responsibility lies with you to organise statutory sick pay for yourself through your company. This is also the case if you or your partner becomes pregnant and you want to claim statutory maternity or paternity pay. Your contractor accountant will be able to advise you on this, but it is helpful to be aware of the general rules on what you can claim and for how long.

 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

If you fall ill, as an employee of your Limited Company you can claim up to £85.85 SSP per week. If the condition is serious, the maximum period this is payable is up to 28 weeks. SSP is paid from the company directly to the contractor and the amounts are deducted from the PAYE paid over to HMRC.

To qualify you must earn above the lower weekly earnings limit of £107. Also, there are three ‘waiting days’ before SSP is payable and each day paid must be a Qualifying Day. This means that it must be a day that is normally a business working day for you e.g.  Monday to Friday.

For SSP it does not matter how short a time you have worked for your company. As long as you have done at least some work you can qualify for payment.

SSP is not likely to cover the income you’re used to, so it’s a good idea to also consider separate health or life insurances.  Your contractor accountant will be able to recommend someone you can talk to about such things.

 

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid to female employees who have recently given birth or who are about to give birth. To qualify they must worked for the company ‘for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth – known as the ‘qualifying week’’.

The rules on SMP state that:

  • The company must ordinarily be given 28 days notice of maternity leave
  • Medical evidence of pregnancy (Form MATB1) must be provided
  • Average weekly earnings (AWE) must be above the lower earnings limits for the relevant period
  • SMP is not payable in any week that the employee does some work

An employee may take up to one year off in the weeks before and after the birth, but not all of this time qualifies for SMP.

An employee can claim up to 39 weeks SMP at the following rates:

  • 90% AWE for the first six weeks
  • 90% AWE or £135.45 per week – whichever is lower – for up to 33 weeks

SMP is regarded as salary and is therefore subject to all relevant taxes.

For small companies it is possible to reclaim 100% of SMP payments in addition to 3% NIC compensation from HMRC.

If a Limited Company contractor does not qualify for SMP, either because they have not worked for the company long enough or because they earn below the lower income threshold, then they may qualify for Maternity Allowance (MA). This pays £136.78 for up to 39 weeks or 90% of your AWE – whichever is lower.

 

Statutory Paternity Pay

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) is payable to male employees who are biological or adoptive parents of a newborn and is payable within 8 weeks of the birth or the date the baby is placed with them.

One or two weeks’ paternity leave can be taken with SPP of 90% of AWE or £135.45 – whichever is lower. If you have a contractor accountant ensure that you give them sufficient notice of when you would like SPP payments to commence.

As with SMP, if you are a small company you can claim 100% of SPP payments made in addition to 3% NIC compensation.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.