The Office for National Statistics has revealed that out of a workforce of 30 million, more than 4 million employees in the UK work primarily from home – a high percentage of whom being contractors. This is an increase of over 62,000 since this time last year and a 10% increase since 2007.
Contractors make up a large proportion of home workers, with the greatest number concentrated in the south-east, where some 132,000 contractors within the region are based from home. By comparison, some 1 in 6 of all workers are employed as contractors.
According to the research, this growth in the number of workers opting for the home-working and contractor route is a combination of several factors, ranging from the desire to save on commuting costs down to seeking greater flexible working patterns. But this is not just making a positive difference on an individual level; it is also having a huge impact on the economy too.
Indeed, according to a report published by the Carbon Trust in May, over 40% of UK jobs are compatible with working from home. It stated that advances in technologies such as broadband internet, smart phones and cloud computing means that a significant number of jobs can now be performed outside of traditional workplaces. Accordingly, if home-working were to be better encouraged by employers throughout the country, UK businesses could save a staggering £3 billion a year and over 3 million tons of carbon a year in the process.
However, whilst these figures are impressive, actually translating this into practice seems to be more challenging than one might expect.
The Carbon Trust’s research found that although 1 in 3 (35%) UK employers already have a policy in place permitting employees to work from home, one-third to one-half choose not to accept it.
Mike Keeling, sales director of One Click Umbrella, said: “The future prospects for contractors in the UK are looking very positive, and an increasing number of recruiters are fast-recognising the benefits to home-working and significant cost-savings to be had.
“But it is important that contractors opting to work remotely ensure they manage the demands of keeping control of all their payroll and expense claims, whilst ensuring IR35 compliance and all PAYE and National Insurance contribution requirements are adhered to.”
These are things that can sometimes be overlooked when employees become contractors for the first time, but companies such as One Click Umbrella can provide the right advice and support for both new and seasoned contractors.