2018 could be a year of uncertainty. Brexit negotiations, political and economic friction, as well as rapid changes in technology, are all clouding the crystal ball. Here’s my freelance tips on what to monitor and how to prepare.
1. Watch out for changes to IR35
The announcement of IR35 reforms in the public sector last year resulted in a contractor exodus and some increased their ‘public sector rate’ by 20% to compensate for the additional tax.
I thought the 2017 Autumn Budget would include an extension of IR35 reforms to the private sector. It didn’t happen, but there is now consultation on introducing a change in 2018. Be prepared.
The Government is also concerned about the tax deficit. The Treasury estimate the shortfall in tax collected from the self-employed compared to employed workers is £3bn a year. There are rumours a rise in self-employment taxes could be on the cards to narrow the gap.
2. Be aware of ‘dependent’ contractor status
Matthew Taylor was commissioned by the UK Government to look at modern working practices and his report was published in July 2017. The Government response is due January 2018.
Currently, there are 3 types of employment; employee, self-employed and worker. Taylor recommends re-classifying worker as ‘dependent contractor’ to provide clearer boundaries between the three groups. He also suggests aligning tax law and employment status law more closely. So, an employee under one form of legislation would become an employee under another.
Why does this matter? It seems certain that any existing contractors who are classified as ‘dependent’ will pay more tax (e.g. National Insurance Contributions) – although the flip side is they will also receive certain employment rights (holiday pay, sick pay, etc?).
3. GDPR: Don’t miss out on job opportunities
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May 2018 and we can expect the first prosecutions before the end of that year. Why should this matter to contractors? Because recruitment agencies and employers, afraid of the eye-watering fines, may hold back on contacting job seekers who have not given them marketing consent.
It’s not possible for a contractor to be aware of every relevant freelance job in the market – searching all the job boards and trawling social media takes time. Good employers and recruitment agencies will notify you when a relevant job becomes available, saving you time and effort – but you have to register for them to contact you.
If you are interested in Microsoft freelance contracts sign-up to the Curo Job Alert so you don’t miss out.
Bonus: Add Continuous Learning to your CV
Continuous Learning has been around for some time, but I believe it will now play a significant role – particularly in sectors/departments where skills are rapidly changing (science & information technology?).
When it comes to learning, there should never be an end date. Gone are the days where people can rely solely on their school or university education to get them through their profession. It’s important for IT staff to continually develop their skills and knowledge, but equally important that it should appear on their CV.
More recruiters will include fields in their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or CRM to store details of a person’s Continuous Learning. Candidates that demonstrate their commitment to regular IT training will get priority.
Curo Talent has also published ‘3 IT trends for 2018: Fun with leaking clouds‘ and ‘7 UK recruitment trends for 2018; IT employers read on…‘.