Building Stronger Relationships: The Role of Communication in Contractor-Recruiter-Umbrella Company Dynamics

Building Stronger Relationships: The Role of Communication in Contractor-Recruiter-Umbrella Company Dynamics

HMRC has recently issued new guidance for recruiters who work with umbrella companies to protect their businesses and their contractors from non-compliant companies. The guidance covers how recruiters can stay within the law, support their contractors and reduce their own risk, and one common theme within all the information is the importance of effective communication. Here we look at the role of communication in contractor-recruiter-umbrella company dynamics and how it can build stronger relationships.

The importance of communication

Andrew Grove, the founder of Intel, once said, “How well we communicate is not determined by how well we say things but how well we are understood”, and in business, a failure to communicate properly and make sure that you are understood can result not only in lost revenue but also reputational damage. It’s vital, therefore, that companies communicate their message simply and effectively, and that what they say can be taken at face value. This is especially true of umbrella companies, in which so many people place their trust. 

As a recruiter, you’ll already understand the importance of doing your research as you compile your PSLs and do a deep dive into the companies you partner with. There will be open and honest umbrellas that lay out their offerings clearly on their website and then there will be those who are more reluctant to divulge the information you need to make an informed choice. At a bare minimum, an umbrella company’s website should contain the following information:

  • Contact details – a phone number, an email address and a contact form. Here at i4 we operate separate phone lines for queries relating to the services we offer and referrals and registration, as well as a dedicated Customer Service Team hotline for queries relating to contracts, timesheets, invoices and payroll, both of which are open every day from 9am – 5 pm. There are also two ways of contacting us by email – and which can be used for contracts, timesheets invoices and payroll, and services, referrals and registration, respectively
  • A physical address – we’re based at 22 Gilbert Street, Mayfair, London W1K 5HD
  • A company registration number – ours is 07027098
  • An entry in Companies House – ours is here
  • Registration with the FCSA – you can find ours here

Let’s look at what else an umbrella company’s website should contain for the purposes of clear communication:

  • Information for contractors – laying out the process simply and with clarity, so that they completely understand how they will be employed and paid and offering them a FAQ section for further information
  • Information for recruiters – detailing exactly what services recruitment agencies can expect to receive and how they will benefit from a partnership with an umbrella company
  • Information about compliance – explaining an umbrella company’s attitude to this most vital aspect of legality, and offering more details about Tax and National Insurance Contributions, Agency Workers Regulations, Workplace Pensions and IR 35 Legislation
  • Information about Payslips – detailing earnings and deductions as well as things such as holiday pay and pension contributions

A lack of any or all of these communication details must be regarded as a lack of transparency within the umbrella company and can be indicative of non-compliance. 

How to build good communication channels

Good communication is vital to good, long-term business relationships – from the umbrella company to its recruitment partners and its contractors, and from the recruiter to their contractors. 

If an umbrella company is unresponsive to your own enquiries it’s likely that the same attitude will prevail in its dealings with the contractors you refer. Choose instead a company that gives contractors a dedicated account manager to handle their queries and answer any questions they might have – however ‘off-the-wall’ – and one that can solve your own specific payroll-related problems with a simple phone call.

When legislation changes, as it frequently does, it’s also important to be partnered with an umbrella company that passes on the relevant information quickly and efficiently so that your recruitment agency doesn’t fall foul of new rules. Does your umbrella company update you when new laws are enacted, or guidance changes? Here at i4 we keep up-to-date with the latest news so you can stay informed and pass on the information to your contractors.

Finally, strong business relationships develop with honesty, trust and transparency and a compliant and responsive umbrella company will welcome feedback about their services, products and processes. So if you do encounter a difficulty, or you think that we, for example, could be doing something better, make sure you let us know – it’s the best way to improve what we do.

For more details about how your contractors can benefit from i4’s umbrella services, or to find out how partnering with us can solve your payroll problems, call us on 0203 603 1290, email us at or fill in the contact form here.