A frequently asked question by new and seasoned contractors is “can I download an IR35 contract” from the internet.
For several reasons, we explain why simply downloading a contract and hoping this will somehow ensure that you escape the IR35 rules, is not the best approach to take.
When people talk about an “IR35 contract”, they actually mean an “outside IR35 contract”. For a contract to escape the IR35 rules, the wording must demonstrate that the contractor is truly “self-employed” as per the employment status rules used by HMRC.
Working practices must reflect the contract wording
Several years ago, the landmark Dragonfly IR35 case reminded us that a so-called “IR35 friendly contract” is worthless unless the words truly reflect the working practices of the contractor. Otherwise, if the contract states that you are self-employed, but the way your work is deemed to be more akin to that of an ’employee’, then you may be caught by the IR35 rules.
As Kate Cottrell from employment status experts Bauer & Cottrell told us:
“IR35 is all about the working practices and therefore it is vital that the written contract accurately reflects the reality of the relationship. An ‘IR35 contract’ is not worth the paper it is written on if this is not the case.”
Client may prefer to use their own contracts
Additionally, even if a contractor downloads an IR35 contract (or has one drafted on their behalf), many clients insist on using their own contracts. Even if you are successful in providing a contract between you and your agency (if you use one), the agency-client contract may not mirror the other contract.
Kate Cottrell continues:
“It is also often the case that you would be unable to use your own contract especially if the engagement is via an agency and many end clients insist on you using their contract. I would recommend you establish this first and then consider taking advice to see if the engagement is outside or inside IR35 before downloading a contract.”
IR35 contract review
If you want to ensure that you are not caught by IR35, you must ensure that you seek professional advice. Not only do you need to acquire a professionally drafted contract, but the terms need to reflect the reality of the way you perform your contract work (your working practices).
Even if you do download a contract, we recommend that you seek professional help in completing it and amending it to reflect your personal situation.
You can find out more in our guide to IR35 contract review services.
IR35 contract download resource
You can download a sample IR35 contract, and other resources including an IR35 confirmation of arrangement letter, from the Qdos website