A contractor's checklist for returning to work
For many contractors, this means that you too will be looking to return to work as clients re-open their workplaces. This might be a slow process as clients have to make workplaces COVID-secure and make arrangements for their in-house employees, but there are things you can do now to ensure you're ready to go when needed.
Reach out to clients now
For the self-employed, it's always beneficial to be on the radar of clients, even when they don't actively need your services. Now is the perfect time to make light contact to ensure you're in their eyeline, even if they haven't formally asked you back yet.
This could be a fairly casual email or phone call to check in and see how they're doing. Have they and their loved ones stayed safe and well? Is everyone on the team OK? How are the arrangements for everyone's return to work going? Let them know you're available and offer them time for a chat to discuss their requirements in the new normal. A similar approach can be taken if you work through recruiters, letting them know you're ready to start should clients be looking.
Discuss your contractor working arrangements
If you know your client wants you back to your role, then working arrangements really need to be discussed in advance. The official advice from the government is still that you should work from home wherever possible. So, if you can do your work remotely, now is a good time to exercise your rights to self-determination as a contractor and do just that.
Of course, there are always exceptions and we know some contractors need to be on-site in order to fulfil their responsibilities. If this is the case for you, you need to discuss your client's COVID-secure arrangements for the workplace in detail and ensure you're fully happy with them. You need to be clear on what is expected of you (does your client require you to arrive at a certain time to stagger arrivals, queue to get in a particular entrance, or wear a face mask or gloves?) and also what arrangements they have made to ensure everyone's safety. If you're not satisfied, you can always request specific arrangements that you feel are appropriate before you start.
Get your business insurances in order
Whether you're a limited company or a sole trader, your client or recruiter will most likely require you to have certain business insurances in place before you can start work. If you haven't been working during lockdown, you may have allowed these to lapse, so now is the ideal time to check your cover and make sure you have everything you need in place. As standard, you'll be required to have:
- Professional indemnity insurance - This covers you for the financial consequences associated with a claim of professional negligence;
- Public liability cover This provides cover for damages that could be awarded to someone for injury or damaged property caused by you while going about your work;
- Employers' liability cover - This is usually a contractual requirement even if you don't have any employees,and it can be useful should you need to employ somebody to substitute for you or perhaps have a family member cover admin work for you.
It's also worth remembering that holding business insurance is a useful IR35 indicator and absolutely worth having in place in advance of next year's private sector reforms. If you're returning to work, make sure you're aware of your IR35 employment status; the best way to do this is by getting a professional status assessment, which is often available when you take out an IR35 insurance policy for example, Kingsbridge's IR35 Protect product. Our Standard and Premium cover includes IR35 status reviews so you can get ahead of the curve in ensuring you are on the right side of the legislation now.
Keep a work/life balance
Finally, as you return to work, try not to lose some of the healthier habits you've picked up during lockdown. Many of us have spent more time with our kids, exercised more, cooked meals from scratch, taken up hobbies, and re-learned to enjoy the simpler things. While the return to work is welcome, it would be a shame to lose these things entirely, so take this opportunity to review your working practices and ensure that the post-lockdown you is happier and healthier in both body and mind.
You can speak to Kingsbridge's expert team about our contractor insurance and IR35 Protect packages by calling us on 01242 808740, or visiting our website for a quote.