Empowering the Freelance Economy

Is it worth using a recruitment agency if you want to stay self-employed and outside IR35?

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Q: I am a freelancer that gets work from word of mouth and recommendations, so I haven’t used an agency before. I sometimes see exciting roles through agency adverts on LinkedIn and other job sites. Still, I ideally want to keep self-employed and remote as I need the flexibility to juggle family life. How should I approach advertised projects and clients if I see a role that I think I may be ideal for through an agency, yet want to remain remote?

Paul Farrer, chairman and founder of recruitment agency, Aspire, offers some guidance

A: First, contact the agency advertising the role and explain to them that you’re interested but need to work with flexibility – whether that’s fully remote or hybrid working. While it might be dependent on the type of work and in some cases, the employer’s attitude to remote working, these days working from home is widely accepted.

With regards to working self-employed as opposed to being an employee, again, explain how you would like to work and the agency will be able to assess if that’s possible – it’s ultimately a decision that will be made based on the nature of the assignment.

If, for example, an employer engages a self-employed contractor directly, then they are responsible for the appropriate legal checks. However, employers often use the services of an agency – both for ease and convenience – to ensure all legal requirements are met with regard to employment status.

A lot of the time, specialist agencies will have candidates immediately available, which gives the employer fast access to skills. However, in many cases, the candidates’ employment status will have already been assessed, given the agency will have a firm idea of the role itself.

While this might mean that working self-employed isn’t a possibility for this particular assignment, it’s still worth speaking with the agency and outlining your preferred ways of working. Once you’re in contact with the agency and they’re aware of your specific requirements, they’ll be able to bring you the most relevant roles – ones that meet your exact needs.

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