Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions


  • What is an umbrella company?

As a contractor, you are likely to be a professional that provides their work and skills to other companies for an agreed wage. However, you are not an employee of that wider firm of business. You will instead be classed as an employee of Unified Payroll, the umbrella company.


So, you literally become our employee and we become your employer; as such we engage you through a Contract of Employment.


As Unified Payroll becomes the employer to workers, our main function is to provide you with work and arrange your payment as the worker at the same time dealing with tax and National Insurance as a standard employer would. Often, this type of work will be secured through a client approaching a recruitment agency, who will then recruit a worker to complete an assignment. You become employed by Unified Payroll and you are able to work on numerous different assignments for agencies and end clients, without changing employers. You’ll have an employment contract with us that offers full UK employment rights.The employment with the umbrella company is permanent and ‘overarches’ any and all fixed term assignments undertaken. This provides continuity of employment for you.

  • What does Unified Payroll do?

We take on agency workers as our own employees with continuous contracts of employment. Our sole purpose is to employ ‘contractors’. To meet the rules to be a ‘continuous’ employment, we follow the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR), HMRC and IR35 legislation requirements

  • What umbrella solution is provided by Unified Payroll?

We operate a PAYE umbrella scheme where all our employees are deemed to be working within IR35 and under the supervision, direction and control of the end client. As such their whole income is subjected to all applicable statutory deductions that include:

  • PAYE Tax

  • NI Contributions (including Employer NI)

  • Apprenticeship Levy

  • Pension Contributions

  • Holiday Pay

  • Student Loan Repayment, and

  • Any other statutory deductions required. All net wages due to you as the worker are paid into your personal UK based bank account in GBP (Pound Sterling). We do not pay in any other currency neither do we pay off-shore or engage contractors who work outside the UK.

  • How we work?

Unified Payroll will sign a contract with the agency, and you too will sign a contract with ourselves. At the end of the assignment or shift, timesheets (usually provided by the agency) are completed so that exact hours and pay can be correctly calculated. The timesheet is submitted to Unified Payroll and the Agency so that both parties have a record of the completed work.


Unless your agency has a self-billing agreement with us, we will then raise an invoice to the agency for your working time, as well as any expenses that the client has agreed to reimburse. The agency will then invoice the client based on your time spent on the job etc. and the client will then pay the agency who will in turn pay us. The date of pay is determined by the agency’s pay schedule, which will then be paid to you through the PAYE system by Unified Payroll direct into your individual bank account. We email you your payslip, which will detail your received income, minus all statutory deductions mentioned above and the umbrella margin.

  • So why does the Agency not do all this and why use Umbrella Companies?

You will be entitled to:

1. Statutory Sick Pay Should you be off work for more than 4 consecutive days and you have a valid fit note then we will initiate a statutory sick pay on your behalf. The standard rate for SSP is £94.25 per week (2019-20). Any SSP will be paid to you on your usual payment day. Please contact your allocated employee services consultant or use the contact details below.


2. Statutory Maternity & Paternity Pay There are certain qualifying criterias that must be met before Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) can be applied for. The current rate is £148.68 per week for both. For SMP, the main criteria is for continuous employment with the employer for a minimum of 26 weeks prior to the Qualifying Week (15th week prior to due date). Please contact your allocated employee services consultant or use the contact details below.

  • How will my holiday pay be calculated?

You have got the right of 28 days paid leave including bank holidays (although you could be entitled to more under the Agency Worker Regulations, as explained previously). If you work on a casual basis or very irregular hours, your holiday entitlement will probably be calculated as a percentage of your hours, so 28 days holiday per year is equivalent to 12.07% hours.


We then use 12.07% to calculate your holiday entitlement per hour or days worked. There are 2 ways which we can pay this to you:


Rolled Up - Your Holiday Pay is included upfront with each payment you receive. This means that you receive payment in advance for the time you may take off as holiday and you won’t be paid directly when you are on holiday or not at work. This is calculated on your gross taxable pay. Please note, this is the default method used by Unified Payroll.


Held Back - If preferred, your Holiday Pay can be held back in a ‘Holiday Fund’ which you can apply for when you do take time off. We calculate 12.07% of your gross taxable income, and retain this amount gross. This is then taxed when it is paid out to you, in line with your time off. You will need to inform us when you would like this paid out via email. Holiday pay can be released as a weekly value, a combination of weeks that you have accrued or as a full pot.


For example:

Week 1 - £45.50 holiday pay retained

Week 2 - £65.50 holiday pay retained

Week 3 - £45.50 holiday pay retained


If this worker is not working in Week 4, they could then request an individual weeks value (for example £45.50), a combination of the weeks accrued (for example weeks 1 and 2 = £111) or their total accrued pot (£156.50).


Holiday pay can only be released as per the weekly amounts we are holding, a combination of these, or as the whole accrued pot.


Please request this from the payroll team if this method be preferable. The Payroll Team will notify you how much holiday pay you have retained, and how much can be paid out. All accrued holiday pay balances are paid out should you leave Unified Payroll.

  • I heard I can claim some relief on my travel expenses?

Prior to April 2016, you could claim tax and NIC relief on the costs of getting to and from your assignment locations. However, this has been closed to anyone working under ‘supervision, direction or control’. This catches many people, usually it is difficult for a low paid worker to qualify for home to work expenses relief except if travel expenses are incurred while working, as opposed to getting to work (e.g. going to a client meeting/visit). Where you use your own car for such travel, you may be able to claim tax and NIC free ‘mileage’. Please see our expenses policy below for further guidance and on how to claim.

  • Why should I enrol with Unified Payroll?

Unified Payroll provides workers with all the benefits of being an employee by employing them whilst working on various assignments. You may continue to use Unified Payroll when you change assignments or restart after a break from working. Simply keep us up to date with your circumstances. 

  • Dedicated account manager

  • No further or future tax obligations once your net pay has been determined.

  • We send out payslips to your email

  • We send out a text message (SMS) to your mobile once the money has been transferred to your bank account. ​

  • We offer an optional pension scheme (provided by NEST

  • General - each contractor has an online access to see how their pension contributions grow).

  • Access to holiday pay, sick pay SSP and maternity (SMP).

  • 24/7 secure online access to documents (payslips, P60 etc.).

  • A fully complaint umbrella scheme (IR35 & AWR).

  • Full employment rights

  • Multiple pay runs daily and same day faster payments for their convenience.

  • Low umbrella margin of a minimum of £12 and a maximum of £18

  • During the enrolment process of a contractor, we provide an illustration (in the form of a sample payslip) based on a contractor’s personal circumstances so that they know what their likely take-home amount will be before you sign up.

  • Reduced paperwork, all documents are completed and signed online (including the contract of employment).

  • References provided for mortgages, tenancy agreements and other requirements

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