PAYE vs Umbrella

When working as a contractor, you may have the option to work through an umbrella company or operate as a self-employed individual under the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system. 

While both options have their advantages and disadvantages, it’s essential to understand the differences between them to choose the one that best suits your needs.

Umbrella Companies

An umbrella company is a company that acts as an intermediary between you and your client or agency. The umbrella company will invoice the client for the work you have done and handle all the paperwork, such as taxes, National Insurance contributions, and expenses.

You will be an employee of the umbrella company, and they will pay you a salary, after deducting their fees and taxes.

PAYE (Pay As You Earn)

On the other hand, working under the PAYE system means you are self-employed and responsible for handling all your finances, including taxes and National Insurance contributions.

You will need to keep accurate records of your income and expenses, and submit tax returns to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) each year.

Pros and Cons of Umbrella Companies

One of the main advantages of working through an umbrella company is that they handle all the administrative tasks for you, such as invoicing, payroll, and taxes. 

This means you can focus on your work and not worry about the paperwork. Additionally, you will be entitled to certain employment rights, such as sick pay and holiday pay.

However, working through an umbrella company can be more expensive than operating under the PAYE system. Umbrella companies charge a fee for their services, which can range from 1% to 5% of your income. This fee may be deducted from your salary, reducing your take-home pay. 

Additionally, umbrella companies may limit the expenses you can claim, which could further reduce your income.

Pros and Cons of PAYE

Operating under the PAYE system means you have more control over your finances. You can claim more expenses, such as travel and equipment costs, which could increase your take-home pay.

However, you will be responsible for handling all the administrative tasks, which could be time-consuming and stressful, particularly if you’re not familiar with the tax system.


In conclusion, choosing between an umbrella company and PAYE depends on your personal preferences and circumstances. If you want to focus on your work and not worry about administrative tasks, an umbrella company may be the best option. 

However, if you’re confident in handling your finances and want more control over your income, operating under the PAYE system may be the way to go.