Empowering the Freelance Economy

IR35: Care sector platform Florence to only support PAYE workers – is it worth changing status?

Florence was founded in 2016 by CEO Dr Charles Armitage (pictured), an NHS doctor and Dan Blake (COO), an ex-officer in the British Army and chairman of a housing charity.
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Florence, an online platform that connects care homes directly to nurses looking for extra shifts, has reported that it will no longer be supporting nurses that work under a limited company structure. As of the 6th of April 2021, when new IR35 legislation changes for the private sector come into effect, the company will be moving to a PAYE shift worker model through its Florence Flex platform.

“From April 6th this year, we’ll be moving to support PAYE workers only. This means we will no longer be supporting limited companies. If you are a nurse with a limited company, IR35 will affect how you use Florence Flex,” the company said.

Florence explained on its website: “We’re doing this because changes in IR35 law mean care homes using Florence Flex have opted to work with PAYE nurses only. Care homes, other agencies and Florence can’t ignore this, as it is UK law. The law has been brought in by the UK government to make sure that agency staff pay broadly the same tax and National Insurance contributions as employees.”

Florence said that it has opted for PAYE rather than umbrella company payments because it believes it is better value for its platform users. “Umbrella companies charge fees as well as taking the same deductions as PAYE. Therefore, it’s better value to use PAYE as you aren’t charged extra fees.”

It also believes its PAYE model will help users avoid tax risk. “Umbrella companies often promise that you can take home the majority of your salary (up to 90%). This could mean that they are involved in a tax avoidance scheme, which could then be challenged at a later date by tax authorities and result in you receiving a large tax bill.”

Florence also believes that its PAYE model will provide workers with consistent pay. “When you work for an umbrella company, your pay date is dependent on when the umbrella company is paid by the agency. As a PAYE worker on Florence, you’ll be paid weekly on Thursdays before 6pm (if your timesheet is approved by 3pm the day before).”

Those that sign up as PAYE with Florence will automatically be enrolled into Florence’s pension scheme.

Nursing sector recruitment: is it in state of crisis?

There is a nationwide crisis in the recruitment of nursing staff within the care sector, according to Florence. The platform has cited National Audit figures that one in eleven nursing jobs in the care sector remain long term vacant.  

“One of the key drivers behind this shortage is the exodus of European nurses from the UK,” the company said in a statement. 

“Data from the NMC show that between April 2017 and March 2018, only 805 nurses from the EU joined the professional register compared with the 6382 nurses who joined in the same period the year before – a decrease of 87%.  

Plugging this gap in supply is very difficult for care home providers.  In order to comply with staffing requirements from the CQC, they must often resort to the use of agency nurses – ad hoc workers supplied by temporary recruitment agencies.  

Whilst the hourly wage of an employed nurse in a care home hovers around £15, the average cost of a nurse sourced through an agency is £35.  Up to 50% of that hourly rate is paid in agency commission.”  

Spend on agency staff in the care sector has grown by 30% annually.  According to Knight Frank, 226 care homes closed across the UK in 2019, many citing a lack of nurses and increasing agency spend as one of the root causes.  


Have you been impacted by IR35 in the care sector? Tell us your story and how things are panning out.

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