A Contractor’s Overview of the Payment Supply Chain

A Contractor’s Overview of the Payment Supply Chain

If you’re new to contracting, or simply want to be more informed about how to get the most out of your work, a thorough understanding of the supply chain is vital. Here we take an overview of the whole process to help you make more informed decisions.

What is the supply chain?

In terms of a working relationship, a supply chain is the interconnected journey that people take to provide or receive services, and the entities that they deal with in order to acquire and fulfil their role within their specific specialty.

In short, it’s about who you deal with along your contractor journey.

Let’s take a look at the key players in this particular supply chain.

The Recruitment Agency

When you first see a job advert that appeals to you, most of the time your first point of contact will be with a recruitment agent who’s been tasked with filling the role, after detailed and prolonged discussions with the employer they’re representing – the client. It’s their responsibility to listen to and interpret what the client wants from the ideal person to fill the vacancy.

Once they’ve found that person (you!) it will be up to them to guide you through the whole application and interview process. They’ll suggest what to highlight in your application, how to phrase your achievements, skills and experience so you maximise your chance of being successful. They’ll also offer advice for the interview, using their knowledge of the client and their specific requirements to enable you to shine.

Recruitment agencies regularly work with umbrella companies for a range of reasons. For example, umbrellas will take on the responsibility of admin, such as payroll, benefits, onboarding, and offboarding. Also, some umbrella companies also cover Employers, Professional and Public liabilities, and offer peace of mind for all parties by ensuring compliance around legislation such as IR35.

The Client

Whatever your specialism, whether it’s hospitality, IT, health and social care, education or within the veterinary sector, the client will be keen to fill their contractor vacancy with someone who has the skills and experience to make a success of the role.

After reviewing the CVs (or application forms) they’ve received from the recruitment agent, the client will select those applicants they consider suitable for interview. Many clients now operate a diverse and inclusive recruitment policy, so ask about their strategy to see if you have something extra to offer.

There are many guides to performing well at an interview, but asking questions about the role, the company and your potential future colleagues will help you make a lasting impression with the interviewer. Ask about such things as the day-to-responsibilities you’ll be dealing with, what the ‘culture’ of the company is, and anything that’s specifically relevant to the role you’ll be doing.

The client should liaise with the recruitment agent to offer you feedback after your interview. This is a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and how you perform in an interview situation. If you’re not successful this time, ask for constructive criticism and address it next time a suitable role arises.

The Umbrella Company

Many recruitment agencies charged with finding people for roles now have a Preferred Supplier List (PSL) of umbrella companies that they deal with, which are proven to offer timely and reliable payment services to contractors. Umbrella companies offer simplicity and consistency for contractors – making up the third part of the recruitment triangle and meaning that the payment process happens without delay or other issues.

As a contractor, you’ll be an employee of the umbrella company, receiving all the benefits of a non-contracted, full time employee – the umbrella company will deal with your pay, tax and national insurance contributions, offer you holiday pay, provide a record of continual employment (vital for applying for credit or a mortgage, for example), as well as pension auto-enrolment and other benefits.

Registering with an umbrella company is a simple process, and once the chain is set in motion and your employment information has been shared with the relevant parties, all you have to do is submit your timesheet and wait for payment. If you have any questions around payment, the umbrella company should be your first port of call.

Questions, questions…

Remember that at any time, with whoever you’re dealing with, the more questions you ask the more information you will have! Never be afraid to ask questions, however ‘trivial’ they may seem to you, especially when it’s about your own future. People will want to help you, especially in the world of recruitment when they are aiming for the same outcome as you – i.e. you securing the job you want and deserve.

Unlike a lot of other umbrella companies, i4 has a dedicated team of highly-professional and -responsive customer service representatives who are on hand to discuss any issues you may have about the whole umbrella company process. From start to finish we make sure that you’re supported every step of the way, whether that’s questions about the registration process (what documentation you’ll need), to questions about your payslips, what statutory employee rights you’re entitled to, and any queries about workplace pensions you may have. We’ve provided a useful FAQ here, but of course you can call us on 0800 084 3058 to speak to a dedicated member of our team. And if you’d prefer to email us, you can do so at hello@i4services.uk for questions about the registration process. You can also fill in the form here for any other enquiries.