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Employment Status – Do I really need a contract?

Q. I am the sole employee and MD of a Limited Liability VAT registered Company which specialises in sales training and translation. I turn over around £60k a year. I perform associate work for two major training consultancies, have a small number of direct clients and my company also undertakes translation work for several others. I don’t have a desk in anyone else’s office nor do I share any telephone numbers or business details with any of my customers/clients.

I work from project to project, have signed no contracts with any of them and there is nothing in place guaranteeing either my future availability to perform work for them or future work they may in turn give me. Relationships are conducted on a job by job basis and fees are likewise negotiated on that basis.

My accountant assures me I am fine but a friend in the oil and gas industry is concerned this may be insufficient to avoid being re defined as PAYE by HMRC and that an ACA accountant is not necessarily competent to advise in this. Your thoughts please!

A. The fact that you have numerous clients and are engaged to work on specific projects is positive, as is the fact you do not guarantee your availability and nor do the clients have any obligation to offer work.

That being said, such factors will not be conclusive in isolation in order to determine employment status. It would be necessary to consider other key status factors, in particular right of substitution/personal service and control.

In the absence of any contractual terms, it might be worth having a review of your working practices which would highlight any area of concern regarding your working practices from an IR35 perspective, and which you will hopefully be able to address, or it may give you a little more peace of mind over your tax status.

By Contractor Doctor


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