How to join an umbrella company scheme

Once you’ve decided that you want to use an umbrella company, and you have found a contract role (or are already on contract), there are a series of steps you will need to take when joining a contractor umbrella scheme.

1. Choose a PAYE umbrella scheme provider. Take your time researching the options available to you – and don’t necessarily follow your recruitment agent’s ‘recommendations’. Read our 15 things to look out for when choosing an umbrella company.

2. Once you’ve found a provider you feel comfortable with, you will be able to register online or give the umbrella a call. Most companies promise to set up a new account for you within 24 hours. Almost all the leading umbrella companies have online portals, so almost all of your communications can be managed via the web.

3. When you’ve secured a contract role (or if you already have one), provide all the relevant details to the umbrella, such as the start and end dates of the assignment, the end-client / agency details, and your hourly / daily contract rate.

4. Provide your recruitment agency with the umbrella scheme details.

5. The agency or client will forward a contract to the umbrella company to sign.

6. You will need to provide some key information to your umbrella company, such as your bank account details, national insurance number, and forward your P45 if you have one (or you will be furnished with a P46 in the meantime).

7. Depending on your umbrella, you may also need to sign a contract of employment.

8. Each week, or month, you should input your timesheet and expenses details into your online billing system (or via fax in rare cases).

9. Your umbrella company will then invoice your recruitment agency, and process your expenses claims.

10. When the umbrella receives payment from the agency (or client), you will be paid (following deductions for PAYE, NI and umbrella fees) via BACS within an agreed timetable.

Often umbrella companies run a bi-weekly payroll, with BACS payments taking around 2-3 days to clear, or you can request a same-day CHAPS payment (possibly for an extra fee). If you’re fortunate enough to have a scheme which uses the ‘Faster Payments’ system, that would be ideal, as it is free and instantaneous in most cases. Ask your account manager, or the sales team, for details.

You can browse our growing list of contractor umbrella companies, and further guides to umbrella companies elsewhere in this section of the site.

Last updated: 15th June 2019