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Link Global Management - Global Payroll Management

Coronavirus: what can contractors around the world do to minimize their risk?

While, as a proud global employment organization here at Link Global Management, we would much prefer to impart advice on such matters as tax and payroll than make health recommendations, there is no doubt that the current Covid-19 pandemic is forcing many independent workers to reassess whether they are doing everything possible to protect themselves and others.

Indeed, the situation may be especially urgent for many of the contractors that we serve, given the uniquely vulnerable situation of independent professionals.

So, what are the steps that you are advised to take?

Although we are not, of course, health professionals, useful advice to contractors was recently provided by Dr Iain Campbell, secretary-general of the Independent Health Professionals Association and chair of the Self-Employed Alliance in the UK.

Writing for the ContractorUK website, Dr Campbell advised that independent workers adopt such already widely publicized, but “simple” measures as washing hands with soap and water, “regularly and always before eating”.

He added that it should take 30 seconds to thoroughly wash one’s hands, and that learning the NHS’s recommended six-point hand-washing technique would allow contractors to wash their hands much more efficiently.

Dr Campbell added that social distancing had been “correctly identified” by the British government as another important strategy for combating the virus. “In practical terms,” he advised, “attempt to maintain two meters (circa six feet) between yourself and other people where possible, and at least one meter.”

Other practical tips of particular relevance to contractors 

In the event that a contractor does feel unwell, Dr Campbell warned that while “contractors do have a reputation for soldiering on through almost any infection… contractors must abandon this attitude during a pandemic, even though many of us wear it as a badge of pride.”

Indeed, he said that even contractors who felt well would have “personal and societal consequences to consider” when assessing whether to continue working.

He explained that while self-isolating for the duration of the pandemic may well be the “safest answer”, “such self-isolation is impractical for many and the decision may depend upon personal finances, whether you have other health conditions, and risk tolerance.”

Dr Campbell did add, however, that contractors living with elderly relatives or those with asthma, diabetes or chronic kidney disease – these all being high-risk groups – should be especially strongly in favor of not working, if this is manageable for them.

He also strongly recommended that independent professionals in, or approaching their 70s consider stopping work altogether until the outbreak has ended, self-isolating at home.

As for those contractors who have no choice but to meet with and speak to a client face-to-face, Dr Campbell advised them to “be mindful of surfaces which may have viral particles on them such as door handles and elevator buttons”, in addition to trying “at all times to maintain social distancing.”

Don’t hesitate to discuss your tax, accounting and payroll concerns with us

The coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly complicating life for almost all contractors and those who work with them, which is just one reason why it is so crucial to always have the most informed and trusted experts by your side.

Our solutions, advice and guidance for contractors, recruiters and employers alike have long made us a highly trusted global employment organization – so don’t wait any longer to get in touch with us if you require help with navigating the current tricky climate for flexible workers.

 

Shock delay to IR35 private-sector changes amid Covid-19 chaos

It’s fair to say that we have seen a week quite unprecedented in the recent history of the UK and indeed, the world. Even in light of this, however, one development that few independent professionals expected until practically the moment it was confirmed, was the deferral of the previously planned IR35 reform for the private sector from 6th April 2020.

Yet, this is precisely what has happened, with the UK’s chief secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, confirming in Parliament on the evening of Tuesday 17th March that the government had decided to put back the off-payroll changes to 6th April next year.

A sensational development – but also merely a ‘postponement’

While the wholesale strife and disruption caused by the coronavirus – including the associated damage to independent workers’ fortunes – means the news will not have too many contractors popping the corks, industry figures still expressed relief at the seemingly unlikely development.

Mr Barclay announced in the Commons that “the government is postponing the reforms to the off-payroll working rules, IR35, from April 2020 to the 6th April 2021”, describing it as “a deferral in response to the ongoing spread of Covid-19 to help businesses and individuals.”

He emphasized, however, that “this is a deferral, not a cancellation and the government remains committed to reintroducing this policy to ensure people working like employees but through their own limited company pay broadly the same tax as those employed directly.”

“Very sensible move by government”

Among the observers to warmly welcome the delay was Andy Chamberlain of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), who tweeted that it was a “very sensible move by government.”

He added that the reform “would have done serious damage to self-employed businesses in any circumstances, so [it’s] right that it’s paused for at least a year in this grave and unprecedented situation. Trouble is, lots of damage has already [been] done.”

ContractorCalculator CEO Dave Chaplin, meanwhile, signaled his pleasure that “the government has seen sense”, but said “we now must keep pushing for changes to outlaw the disgrace that is ‘zero rights employment’, and to make it illegal for firms to push employer’s taxation onto contractors.

“We must also push for the genuine review of IR35 legislation promised by the previous Chancellor, as part of the Conservatives’ planned review into self-employment.”

Whatever the next uncertain months and years bring, we’ll guide you through it

These are understandably very anxious times for many contractors, which is why it’s all the more important for them to have the assurance of the right partners by their side.

Our trusted providers of global payroll management and tax advice here at Link Global Management can be those partners, wherever your career as an independent professional takes you in the curious and fast-changing circumstances that await us.

Contact our highly capable and seasoned team today for all of the specialized assistance and guidance that you might require in 2020, wherever and however you are contracting.

 

A mixed response from contractors to the UK’s Spring Budget

Recently appointed UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s first Budget on 11th March was greeted with both pleasure and discontent from the country’s independent professionals.

While a historic stimulus package to help freelancers and small businesses through the coronavirus outbreak was widely welcomed, there was despair at the news that the government’s controversial private-sector IR35 reform would be going ahead from April.

What’s the positive news for independent workers in Britain?

Concerns about the potential effects on the UK economy of the Covid-19 pandemic inevitably dominated much of the conversation surrounding the Spring Budget. Sure enough, Sunak moved to reassure UK plc with a hefty set of measures that should help to protect contractors’ incomes.

Chris Bryce, CEO of the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), described these plans as “very welcome – and in line with what IPSE has been calling for.”

He added: “It is absolutely right that the self-employed should get financial support if they become ill or have to self-isolate because unlike most employees, they do not have access to sick pay.”

There was also some positivity from the contracting industry in response to the Chancellor’s decision to merely reduce, rather than remove Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER). Indeed, experts cited by the ContractorUK website went as far as describing the lowering of ER’s lifetime limit to £1 million as “fair”, “positive” and even “contractor-friendly”.

Refusal to halt IR35 changes, however, spells gloom for many workers

Sadly, for all of the warmth that some aspects of the Budget were met with, it was not an occasion of great glee for a significant proportion of the UK’s independent professionals. This is due to the government having quietly confirmed that it will go ahead with IR35 reforms set to hit the private sector from 6th April, despite repeated calls for such plans to be reconsidered.

While the Chancellor did not mention the off-payroll changes in his Budget speech, the accompanying Budget ‘red book’ outlined that they would proceed without delay.

The book stated: “The government believes it is right to address the fundamental unfairness of the non-compliance with the existing rules, and the reform will therefore be legislated in [the] Finance Bill 2020, and implemented on 6 April 2020.”

However, Julia Kermode – CEO of the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) – said the absence of IR35 from the Budget speech was “insulting” to the contractors, trade bodies, MPs and other stakeholders that had previously aired their concerns about the changes.

“I am shocked that he made absolutely no mention of IR35 or the off-payroll reforms in his Budget speech, except perhaps in his veiled comment with regards to dealings with tax avoidance and compliance when introducing his public sector spending plans.”

Bryce, meanwhile, said the decision to go ahead with the reforms was “catastrophic” news for the UK contracting sector. He condemned the government’s IR35 review as “recklessly inadequate”, pointing out that it took less than two months, was not independently chaired and “its recommendations were ultimately little more than superficial tinkering.”

Allow us to help you to navigate the Budget’s implications in the months ahead

Whatever the Spring Budget means for you, your income and your future as a contractor, when you are looking at GEO and PEO firms that can assist you through the challenges of the coming months and years, there’s no need for you to look further than Link Global Management.

Call +44 (0)203 829 7221 or email info@linkglobalmanagement.com today to learn more about how we can work alongside you to enable you to get the very best out of your career as an independent professional throughout 2020 – and beyond.

 

New German law takes effect that lowers bar to entry for skilled workers

Many a prospective user of an umbrella company and payroll vendor in Germany, such as Link Global Management, will be interested to learn of the central European country’s new Skilled Immigration Act, which makes it easier for professionals from outside the European Union (EU) to live and work there.

The law took effect from 1st March 2020, and mainly applies to qualified professionals, including workers like electricians and plumbers who have some form of vocational training, and those who have completed a university degree.

The training course must be at least two years in length, and the resulting degree should be recognized as equal or similar to a German degree. Nor will such professionals be able to apply for a visa until they have received an offer for skilled employment in the country.

The German government has set up an online portal that enables potential movers to check whether their qualification is recognized in Germany.

What is the background of the new act?

It has long been notoriously difficult for citizens of non-EU countries to move to Germany, with the country’s political leaders insisting for decades that they weren’t pursuing active immigration policies, as reported by public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

However, there has been a change in stance in recent years, due to Germany lacking more than a million of the skilled laborers that its economy needs.

In principle, it was already possible for professionals from outside the EU to work in Germany if they had a work contract with a German-based firm and the relevant professional qualification for the job.

However, it was also previously the case that a non-EU worker was only able to take on a job in Germany if there was no German or EU citizen who was able to do it instead. It is this particular regulation that the new law has removed.

A notable change in tone – but are you abreast of the latest requirements?

The German labor ministry said of the new law: “Germany is now open to anyone who has completed vocational training – regardless of whether that profession is in demand.

“Now all qualified professionals with a suitable occupation can be employed in Germany.”

There’s much about the latest changes that may be of appeal to independent workers who are considering making Germany their next professional stop. It is now easier, for example, for skilled immigrants to take up jobs in Germany where an acute shortage of skilled professionals exists.

That means the likes of medical doctors, registered certified nurses and IT specialists, for instance, don’t need to have their qualifications recognized by German authorities, provided that they can prove at least five years of on-the-job experience.

Workers are also now permitted to bring their spouses and minor children to Germany, subject to proving that they can support their family members financially, and providing them with sufficient living space.

We’re the only tax and accounting experts that you’re likely to need

Are there any aspects of your own potential relocation to Germany that you would like to discuss with skilled and experienced accountants and payroll professionals?

If so, don’t look any further than making Link Global Management your choice of umbrella company and payroll vendor in Germany; simply email info@linkglobalmanagement.com or call +44 (0)203 829 7221 for further advice and assistance.

 

New UK Chancellor pledges soft approach for first year of IR35 reform – but critics aren’t convinced

If one major change above all others has been dominating conversation among contractors in the UK lately, it is the looming reform to IR35 rules set to take effect from 6th April. The shake-up has been criticized by many as potentially catastrophic for the situation of the country’s independent professionals.

So, what difference has the British government’s appointment of a new Chancellor of the Exchequer – Rishi Sunak, following the resignation of predecessor Sajid Javid – made to many UK contractors’ hopes of the IR35 changes being delayed or even cancelled altogether?

The short answer is: seemingly not much. Sunak has promised “tweaks and improvements to make sure the transition is as seamless as possible”, while adding that HM Revenue & Customs would not be “heavy-handed” in the first year of its implementation of the new rules. However, industry observers have expressed widespread skepticism about what his remarks could mean in practice.

“An appropriate and fair thing to do”

Speaking at a recent event in Birmingham, Sunak backed the government’s stance of proceeding with the controversial changes. He did, though, suggest that tax officials would initially take a soft approach to their enforcement of the new rules, “to give people time to adjust… which I think is an appropriate and fair thing to do.”

The essence of the reform is that whereas it was previously up to contractors and freelancers to set their tax status, this will now be the responsibility of the medium and large businesses using such individual professionals’ services.

While Sunak defended the government going ahead with the changes – arguing that “we’ve always had a law which means that you should pay the taxes for the type of work you have” – a number of big companies have already said they will cease to hire contractors as a consequence of the reform.

Sunak’s words met with hostility from independent professionals

Much of the reaction to the speech from the workers who Sunak was seemingly trying to placate was hardly warm. One contractor accountant told the ContractorUK website, for example, that “there’s no point in a soft landing. If they’re worried about implementation, then delay.”

Meanwhile, Contractor Calculator CEO Dave Chaplin was even more scathing, declaring that the new Chancellor “holds up a naked flame. With one fell swoop on 6 April 2020, he could reduce the UK’s flexible workforce to ashes.” He added, however, that “it’s not too late to blow out the match. Make the right decision, Rishi.”

Andy Chamberlain, deputy policy director at the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), commented: “The fact HMRC are apparently planning to give these changes a ‘soft landing’ suggests they are starting to understand just how damaging and disruptive they will be for business and contractors alike.”

We’re always available at the other end of the phone

Would you like to discuss with our own accountants and advisers here at Link Global Management, how you can best navigate the changing legal landscape in whichever part of the world you may be contracting in 2020? If so, you are welcome to enquire to our professional employment organization, whether by sending us an email or calling +44 (0)203 829 7221.

 

Prolonged fall in Turkish unemployment should put contractors in good cheer

A trend of dropping unemployment in Turkey that began in August last year continued in November, according to recently released figures from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), which could spell good news for those contemplating taking up work in the transcontinental country in 2020.

Indeed, the latest drop recorded for November brought the national unemployment rate to 13.2% –the lowest seen in 2019 – compared to the 13.5% observed the previous month.

With the Turkish economy having created 280,000 new jobs since unemployment started to decline, it seems that plenty of opportunities may await those using an umbrella company in Turkey. Concerns do still persist, however, including about a high level of youth unemployment.

What else can we learn from drilling down into the figures?

There was still plenty of reason for caution when looking at the latest statistics about the situation of the Turkish labor market, which will also need to be borne in mind by independent professionals.

The country’s unadjusted unemployment rate of 13.3% in November may have been an improvement on the situation of months before, but it remains higher than the 12.3% observed for the same month in 2018.

Furthermore, while there has been a decrease in youth unemployment from the all-time high of 27% seen in August, this was only to 24%.

The improving Turkish job market can be attributed to a further drop in the country’s participation rate, the 52.8% rate recorded for November being the lowest since mid-2017. The size of the labor force in Turkey has actually remained the same during this period, at 32.7 million.

On a sector-by-sector basis, 92,000 jobs were added in industry and 45,000 in agriculture. However, declines were recorded for construction and services of 10,000 and 8,000 respectively.

Nonetheless, the fact that more than 100,000 new jobs have been posted for two months in a row indicates the Turkish labor market recovery is gathering pace.

Work with us to position yourself advantageously for professional success in Turkey this year

As unemployment continues to fall in Turkey amid a better economic outlook and a particularly strong performance for public sector hirings, your timing might not have been much better if you are considering taking up a new contract in the country in the months immediately ahead.

Place your faith in Link Global Management as your umbrella company in Turkey, and we’ll help you to plan effectively for the next chapter of your professional life at this fascinating gateway between Asia and Europe – including getting your tax and accounting arrangements just right. Simply contact our team now for further information, advice and guidance.

 

New IR35 survey results suggest likely ‘exodus’ of UK contractors

The changes to ‘off-payroll’ tax rules that are set to take effect in the UK from 6th April are already catastrophically impacting on the situation of many independent professionals and the country’s contracting sector in general, according to fresh research.

Despite the British government moving to soften the upcoming IR35 reform in the private sector by confirming that it would now only apply to payments made for services provided from the April commencement date, the changes have continued to attract widespread criticism.

Such critics include respondents to a study reported by Personnel Today and other media sources, indicating that as many as half of contractors will soon be leaving clients as a consequence of the controversial reform – potentially amounting to a £2.2bn hit to the economy. This figure was calculated by the company carrying out the survey, on the basis of the numbers of contractors leaving, the length of time that will be required to replace them, and the average day rate.

The findings suggest dire implications for independent professionals

Not only did the survey – which quizzed nearly 1,500 self-employed workers – discover that the wider contracting sector in the UK could be plunged into disarray due to the changes, but it also heard from contractors who told of the detrimental effect the reform had already had on their personal circumstances and mental health.

23% of those surveyed, for instance, said they had been “banned by clients without assessment”, while 28% were still waiting to learn of their status; a mere 9% had been deemed to be outside the scope of IR35.

No less worryingly, nearly a third of contractors – 31% – said the situation was affecting their mental health and leaving them anxious. With almost one in 10 of those questioned choosing self-employment in the first place as a way to cope with their own disability or illness, there is understandably great concern among these workers about the consequences for them of any change in circumstances.

15% of respondents said they were either in the process of selling their property or were on the verge of defaulting on their mortgage – a saddening illustration of the toll the reform appears to be taking on contractors, even before its start date.

One participant in the research described themselves as “very stressed, depressed and demoralized”, while another said they were “treated like a criminal” and were considering early retirement.

We’ll guide you through whatever difficulty – and opportunities – may lie ahead

As an independent professional who may frequently move across borders, you are likely to greatly appreciate all of the informed assistance you can receive to ensure you enjoy the optimal tax arrangements, while also always remaining on the right side of the law.

Whether you are set to contract in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia or in any of a broad range of other markets for specialized talent in the months to come, we can help you to ensure the highest standards of international tax compliance. Call +44 (0)203 829 7221 or send us an email to discuss your situation and concerns with our seasoned expert advisors.

 

What are the job prospects for contractors in France in 2020?

We do plenty of work here at Link Global Management as a payroll vendor in France, and the continued attraction of the Western European country as a location for independent professionals probably shouldn’t be surprising for a range of reasons.

France, after all, will always be an inimitable arts, fashion and cuisine capital, so it ticks all of the key lifestyle boxes for many workers. However, there is also currently an abundance of fresh professional opportunities to consider here, the recent upturn in fortunes for the French labor force illustrated by a steady drop in unemployment over the past year, as reported by The Local.

A jobless rate now hovering at a 10-year low would seem, in theory, to be an excellent springboard for a sustained expansion in vacancies during 2020, representing an impressive turnaround given France’s historically poor employment rates compared to other European nations.

Independent professionals should keep their eyes peeled for openings  

With the French jobless rate having reached 8.5% late last year, it doesn’t seem out of the question that President Emmanuel Macron could reach his target of 7% unemployment in the country by the end of 2020. No less encouraging, though, are the reports we’ve been hearing of French employers declaring their order books full, and a willingness to take on new staff this year.

When this situation is combined with the concerns many firms have already voiced about being unable to fill some positions due to an inability to find people with the skills they require, there would seem to be obvious scope for well-placed contractors to make the most of the boom in opportunities being seen right now.

The situation, though, differs markedly across the nation

Naturally, the sectors and employers offering the greatest numbers of interesting opportunities for those calling upon the services of a payroll vendor in France like Link Global Management, greatly vary from one end of the country to the other.

Inevitably, Paris remains the powerhouse of a slightly unbalanced French economy, responsible for about a third of the country’s GDP. Equally predictably, Paris City Hall – Hôtel de Ville – looks set to recruit especially heavily in 2020, although there are also reports of Parisian employers across such sectors as healthcare, accountancy and digital seeking new talent.

Healthcare and information technology are also key industries in the south west of the country, with both medical and non-medical staff being sought in the former sector, and consultants, developers and software engineers likely to be in demand among IT employers.

As for Lyon and the surrounding Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, it is thought that this part of the country will see a continued focus on health, tourism and transport jobs in the months ahead. Such trends were observed in data recently gathered in a major exercise by French newspaper Le Parisien.

Whatever the year holds, we’ll leave you well-placed  

Are you most drawn to the prospect of working in France on account of its cultural and lifestyle strengths, or instead the professional openings that it would seem are becoming more numerous in the country? Irrespective of your reasons for considering this ever-fascinating corner of Western Europe, you can depend on Link Global Management to remain firmly by your side.

Please do not hesitate to enquire to us today about our merits as a professional employment organization and payroll vendor in France, whether you are a seasoned worker here or only just beginning to consider the country as your next contracting destination.

You can contact us by phone or email, and when you do, we will be pleased to provide you with suitably specialized and informed guidance and advice.

 

Could April’s IR35 reform apply even to contractors based outside the UK?

Ask many independent professionals and their clients working around Europe and beyond to cite just two key issues that will likely cause them to carefully review their present arrangements in 2020, and they will probably mention Brexit and the upcoming changes to IR35 law in the UK.

Both of these developments bring a certain level of uncertainty to many of those calling upon the advice and guidance of our contractor accountants in Germany, France, Holland and elsewhere.

Let’s imagine, for instance, that you live permanently in a country other than the UK and operate through your own limited company registered in that country and subject to taxes there. However, you also work for a UK-based client. Will the latter factor alone cause you to be impacted by the IR35 reform that takes effect in the UK from 6th April?

We can help to put your mind at rest

We serve many independent professionals like the above here at Link Global Management, including people who come from the UK but are no longer tax residents. Despite this, they may fear that taking on UK-based contracts will mean they come under the terms of the IR35 changes.

The good news is that if this is the situation you are in, you shouldn’t have to worry about IR35. The fact of the matter is that IR35 is UK tax legislation, so if you are working through a limited company outside the UK, the rules will not apply to that company’s activities.

This is presuming, of course, that you continue to reside in that country and work through your foreign-registered limited company, even if you are providing services for a UK-based client.

The UK tax office, after all, has no real power to influence overseas firms. So, as long as your company remains registered outside the UK and you are still a taxpayer in that foreign country, it is the laws there that you will need to abide by.

Could Brexit further complicate your situation in 2020?

Some contractors, however, are in a very different situation, with Brexit prompting them to move back to the UK, become a UK taxpayer and form and operate through a Personal Service Company (PSC) registered in the UK.

If this describes your situation, you will – of course – need to bear IR35 in mind, in common with any other UK-based contractor. Again, we can guide you with regard to how your arrangements can be best structured in light of the law, including if you work for clients abroad.

As a rule of thumb, the key is to comply with the tax laws of whatever country your company is registered in, even if you are serving clients based outside that country.

For a more detailed discussion with our contractor accountants in Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Australia or wherever else in the world you may be working in 2020, including on how you can adapt to the latest evolutions in local legislation affecting independent workers, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Netherlands employment figures reach record high, in great news for contractors

While there have long been many fine reasons to work as an independent professional in the Netherlands – including a fascinating and varied culture, major artistic and museum attractions and the broad range of sectors in which contractors can find roles – it seems another strong reason is the relatively low likelihood of unemployment here.

Indeed, the autonomous agency Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has recently released figures showing that the number of people in paid work in the Netherlands increased by an average of 17% each month over the last three months.

The even more eye-catching news, however, is that it all means there have never been more people in paid work in the country than there are now, with more than nine million people employed.

Significant falls in the number of people out of work

The last quarter has seen the number of unemployed people in the Netherlands decrease by an average of 7,000 every month. There were only 302,000 unemployed people in the country as of December, which equated to a 3.2% unemployment rate. Those without paid work signaled that they were readily available and had recently searched for a job.

However, there were 3.7 million people last month who were not in paid employment, for a range of reasons. Those in this particular group had not recently been on the lookout for a job, and nor were they readily available for work. These people were not, therefore, included in the CBS working population figures. The last three months have also seen a notable drop in the number of people in this group, by an average of 1,000 each month.

Could the Netherlands be the perfect contracting destination for you this year?

The Netherlands continues to enjoy a reputation as one of the Eurozone’s leading economies, with no shortage of opportunities for independent professionals in such sectors as professional services, energy supply and financial services. It’s therefore understandable why so many prospective overseas workers are carefully considering the country as their next stop.

Whether you take up a role in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague or anywhere else in the Netherlands in 2020, here at Link Global Management, we would advise you to consult our complete online contracting in Holland guide, to ensure you always remain on the right side of local law.

Indeed, if you contact us directly, we would be pleased to assist you with the process of adjusting to your new professional and personal life in the Netherlands, including help with planning and the appropriate structuring of your work arrangements here. Don’t hesitate to call +44 (0)203 829 7221 or send us an email to discuss your specialized requirements.

 

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