Most contractors will only be paid when they're working but this situation is slightly different for umbrella company employees. In this article we'll look at how umbrella company employees can cover their time off.
Use your holiday pay
Because you're employed, you're entitled to 5.6 weeks' paid holiday, assuming you're employed for a full year by the same umbrella. This is obviously intended to enable you to take time off but your umbrella company is not necessarily aware of when you intend to work and when you'll be on holiday, so it's usually up to you to manage your own holiday pay.
When to request your holiday pay
When you take time off, there will be a gap in your "normal" pay, and it's best to arrange for your holiday pay to fill this gap. This will ensure you don't have a period without any pay, and it also means you won't receive two payments in the same tax period which can complicate your pay-slips and may mean you temporarily pay more tax than expected.
Most umbrella company employees are paid in arrears, which would mean you need to request your holiday pay for the week after you actually take time off. Speak to your umbrella company for the exact process and the best time to request your holiday pay.
If you’re employed by Orange Genie, your current accrued holiday pay can be seen at the bottom of your latest payslip. Our holiday year runs from April 1st to March 31st. Please remember to take your holiday entitlement throughout the year and claim your accrued holiday pay where applicable. You can find specific information about our holiday pay process here>>
Your umbrella company may give you a choice about whether you accrue holiday pay and request it when you take time off or have it paid to you in each payment as you go along. If you choose to have it paid in each payment, we strongly advise you to make your own provision for your holidays as it's important that you're able to take time off.
Making your own provision for time off
As a contractor you will have fluctuations in your pay, either from changes in the rate from one assignment to another, from downtime between assignments, or from seasonal fluctuations in the amount of work available. It's good practice to save money as you go along, to "smooth out" these fluctuations, and keep your finances stable even as you enjoy the flexibility and freedom of contracting.
One effect of this "war chest" is that it allows you to take time off as and when you want or need to, without worrying about how you'll pay the bills.
How much you decide to save will depend on your commitments and the market conditions in your sector; for example how "in demand" your skills are, and how much downtime you can expect between assignments. You can obviously make your own provision as well as accruing holiday pay with your umbrella company, or you can add your holiday pay to your private savings each week or month as you get paid.