Life as a working mum at any level can be tough. Earning an income and spending as much time as possible with your children can be a tricky balancing act.
But one working option can provide the solution. If you have the right skills, contracting can offer you an ideal blend of interesting work, rewarding pay and, crucially, the flexibility to choose when you work and when you take time off. The growth of contracting has led to a proliferation of support networks designed to help contractors and there are plenty of contractor PAYE services available to offer practical support.
Contractors work in all sectors of industry and across a number of disciplines. If you have any in-demand skills, from being a qualified scientist or engineer to human resources or marketing skills, you could find that there is work out there for you that will enable you to have the flexibility to spend sufficient quality time with your children.
What is contracting?
Contractors typically work for one client on a particular project for a set period of time. They often function as limited company contractors, effectively operating a small business, perhaps with a partner, or they work under an umbrella company.
As a contractor, you would usually be engaged working on the company premises for a specific project, and you would be billed for your services. That can be anything up to several hundred pounds a day, depending on your skills and the degree of demand for them.
It is important to be aware of the differences between contracting and other flexible ways of working. Contractors are not freelancers, who generally work for a number of clients at the same time, usually on short-term or small jobs, nor are they temps, who work on site for a few days or weeks. Contracting is also different to consulting, which involves charging by the day or hour and usually involves giving advice rather than working hands on.
To be a contractor, you either have to set up a limited company or join an umbrella company. Being a sole trader is not a viable way of approaching contracting, as many potential clients and agencies won’t work with sole traders. Setting up your own limited company is relatively straightforward, as is joining an umbrella organisation.
As well as the flexibility to take time off to be with your children during school holidays, contracting also offers other advantages. In particular, you will be able to keep more of your earnings, thanks to tax efficiency measures. By setting up as a limited company, you are effectively being paid contracting fees when you take on a contract, which are subject to corporation tax, rather than income tax. You can also charge business expenses to the company, thereby reducing your tax bill.
Contracting isn’t for everyone, but if you have skills that are in demand, are able to commit to working for one or two months at a time and like the idea of the flexibility that contracting provides, then it could be worth looking at whether contracting is right for you.
Are you a mum and working as a contractor, I would love to hear if this helps to create a work family life balance.