Where do you start when you want to compare umbrella companies? With so much to consider, it can seem overwhelming for most contractors. At Umbrella Broker, we want to make it a lot easier.

In this post, we’ll break down umbrella comparison into four key aspects – costs, quality, value and reviews.

 Cost

It’s now a legal requirement for all umbrella companies to offer statutory benefits to their employees. That includes sick pay, 28 days’ paid holidays and maternity or paternity leave. With that in mind, they can no longer be compared for what benefits they offer.

The result? Cost is now the main factor for most contractors comparing umbrella companies. On the face of it, this refers to the fees umbrella companies charge you for their services. This amount, typically upwards of £60 a month or £15 a week, will be taken from your invoiced total before it’s taxed.

However, there are some other ‘hidden’ costs to consider. Some umbrella companies will charge an added fee for joining or leaving, to cover the cost of admin. Others may ask for a higher rate if you want them to process expenses or make same-day payments.

Net vs gross fees

You should also be wary of the difference between net fees and gross fees. Gross fees are the fees umbrella companies charge before tax. That’s when the fee will actually be taken, so it’s an accurate representation when you’re comparing them.

On the flipside, a net fee is the amount you will see taken off your take-home pay. Net fees include tax relief, because the amount they charge would be subject to tax and national insurance if it was paid to you. A gross fee of £60 would translate to a net fee of around £41 on basic rate tax, for instance. However, umbrella companies might use a higher rate of tax to minimise net fees, which can be misleading.

Quality

After weighing up the costs, consider the quality of service on offer. What is the umbrella company offering to you? Umbrella companies will process your invoices, calculate your tax and send the right amount to HMRC as standard. As mentioned, they will also provide full employment rights and statutory benefits.

However, there are some other areas where they could vary. Firstly, insurance. Most contractors require Professional Indemnity, Public Liability and Employers’ Liability insurance. If an umbrella company offers these insurances as standard, it certainly makes for a higher-quality service.

On top of that, there’s the customer service. What kind of support and guidance does your chosen umbrella company provide? While some will be on the end of the phone throughout the day, month or year, others will strip back their services and simply give you a contact email. An online portal is another potential boost, as this gives you access to your details and documents, like payslips and invoices, whenever you need them.

Value

The next question is what value do their services give to you? With insurance, for instance, there is a clear financial value. Umbrella companies will take out policies to cover all of their employees, benefitting from economies of scale to get the best deal. However, if you try to take out insurance for yourself, it could cost you a few hundred pounds each year.

What about the support and guidance? If this is something you really need, you would most probably pay for a consultant or accountant without the umbrella company’s services. That translates to a big financial saving over time, because you have that expert support on hand whenever you need it.

While they’re now offered as standard, it’s also important to factor in the value of statutory benefits. If you go it alone, you would need to set aside quite a bit of money to take time off work for a holiday or sickness. That would need to be even more for maternity or paternity leave. Through an umbrella company, you’re completely covered, like a regular employee. Over time, this could be worth hundreds or even thousands.

Of course, it’s not just about purely financial value. Some umbrella companies will offer a better time saving. An online portal, for example, makes it quick and easy to get the documents you need. Having insurance through your umbrella company also saves you a lot of hassle phoning different providers.

Reviews

Finally, reviews. In short, umbrella company reviews are a way to verify all of the factors we’ve listed above. It’s all well and good for an umbrella company to say they provide 24/7 support and no hidden costs. But their reviews might tell a different story. Fortunately, there a plenty of places where you can find reviews.

First of all, ask any friends and fellow contractors about their experiences with umbrella companies. If they can recommend a good provider, you know you’re getting an endorsement from someone you trust.

Elsewhere, a quick Google search of the umbrella company’s name (plus “reviews”) will bring up sites like Trustpilot, where you can see plenty of reviews from other contractors. Each company will have an overall average score, but you can also dig deeper and see what specific contractors are saying to get a better idea of what’s good and bad about each umbrella company.

Get it all in one place

At Umbrella Broker, we want to make your search as easy as possible. That’s why our umbrella comparison site provides everything you need to compare umbrella companies.

Once you’ve entered your details and estimated income, you’ll be given a full breakdown of costs and take-home pay from a range of umbrella companies. We’ll also summarise the perks of each umbrella and their review ratings, so you don’t have to go searching yourself.