Hot topics for contractors!The Importance of your Reputation as a Freelance Worker
The importance of managing your reputation when freelancing seems to escape many independent practitioners. Just ask Gerald Ratner about the impact of not getting it right. With marketing budgets at an all time low and viral networking the new medium of endorsement, managing your profile has never been more important.
Here are my top four focus points when maintaining your reputation as a freelance worker;
I think that it is incredibly important to remain professional and make sure that you reply to any correspondence quickly and efficiently and with a polite manner. If you are struggling with the work, do not understand what you should be doing or do not think you will meet the deadline on time then make sure you let them know immediately. Generally if you have a good reason then most clients are quite understanding and will appreciate the fact that you kept them informed.
I know that many clients like being kept up to date throughout the project so that they know exactly how things are progressing and whether the project will be completed on time. Failing to communicate often means the client has no idea what stage you are at and they will not want to have to keep contacting you asking where the work is. This will ultimately result in poor reputation and feedback and could damage your career and lose you work.
Stick to deadlines
One way in which you can instantly damage your reputation is if you do not stick to the deadlines you have been set. This will give the impression that you are not organised and cannot plan your time effectively. If it's clear that you aren't going to be able to meet your deadline for whatever reason, refer to our first tip; communicate this to your client as early as possible.
Complete the work to a high standard and raise problems first.
Obviously one of the most important areas is completing the work that you have been sent to a high standard. If you fail to stick to the brief or seem to have taken no care in the work then your reputation is going to be severely damaged. I think it is worth remembering that you could have a fantastic reputation, but one piece of bad work could severely affect this, so each project you take on is as important as the one before.
I think that it is incredibly important to remain professional and not cause your client too many problems. You should make sure that you reply to any correspondence quickly and efficiently and with a polite manner. Never forget that the client is paying you to do a job and you must make sure that you carry it out as they wish and to the standard requested.
And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. During the course of a project you do not know how the client perceives you so it is important to carry out all work to a high standard and to remain professional at all times. In this way you should gain a good reputation for being reliable and hard working and could find that more work comes your way.
By Gerry Gregoire
Marketing Consultant at Danbro
Please visit www.danbro.co.uk
Ensure your workplace is deemed temporary
It’s essential when determining whether you have the right to claim travel and subsistence expenses
If you are a contractor, assessing your workplace status is extremely important. There are a number of rules set by HMRC which will determine whether you have the right to claim travel and subsistence expenses whilst you work. The rules heavily focus on whether your place of work can be classified as temporary or permanent.
Essentially, if your workplace is classified as being temporary, you have the right to claim travel and subsistence [depending on other qualifying rules like the ’24 month rule’]: however if HMRC believes your workplace to be permanent, your right to claim these expenses will end.
Firstly, have you been issued an overarching employment contract?
Having an overarching employment contract means you anticipate working on multiple assignments when working via an umbrella company. With this type of contract in place, each place of work will be classified as temporary, which then permits you to claim travel and subsistence expenses as you work.
The importance of working on more than one assignment with your umbrella...
There have been cases where some contractors jump from umbrella to umbrella, working on just one assignment per company: however this poses some issues. If you anticipate working on one assignment through your umbrella, your workplace will be automatically classified as permanent meaning your right to claim travel and subsistence expenses would end. With an overarching employment contract, you should anticipate working on multiple assignments with your umbrella company, allowing you to claim these expenses.
Complying with the 24 month rule
As soon as you anticipate working at one place of work for more than 24 months, your right to claim travel and subsistence will end as your workplace will be deemed as permanent from that point onward.
E.g. you have been working at workplace A for 18 months and your contract is renewed for a further seven months. From that point, you will no longer be eligible to claim travel and subsistence.
Resetting the 24 month rule
To reset the 24 month rule, you must start working at a new workplace deemed as ‘new’. HMRC have set two requirements which need to be met when establishing your workplace as being ‘new’. These requirements are;
1. It must be at least 10 miles from the previous workplace
2. The journey you take must be substantially different
E.g. you work at Workplace A which is 18 miles away from your home. To get to work, you leave your home, turn right and travel up a straight road. You have been working at workplace A for 18 months.
You now obtain a new assignment for 12 months at workplace B. This workplace is also 18 miles from your home; however, to get to it you leave home, turn left and travel up a straight road.
In this example the journey you take on the new assignment is more than 10 miles from your last workplace and the journey taken is substantially different, thus your new workplace is classed as temporary and the 24 month rule is reset.
Running over the 24 month rule
If you have been working at one place of work for 24 months, you should cease claiming travel and subsistence expenses. Your umbrella company should have the necessary checks in place to monitor this. If you do continue to claim expenses, HMRC could claim back any tax liabilities that should have been paid for that period.
To ensure you remain eligible to claim travel and subsistence, please remember the following points;
Ø Ensure you have been issued with an overarching contract.
Ø You should anticipate working on more than just one assignment with your umbrella company.
Ø Ensure you comply with the 24 month rule
For more information on assessing your workplace status, feel free to contact Danbro on 0800 7311 3178 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit their website at http://www.danbro.co.uk/umbrella-company/umbrella-company.htm