How (And Why) To Choose A Good Umbrella

January 23, 2024

As a recruitment business you’ll want to direct your contractors to an umbrella or CIS payments provider who will provide the best advice, support and compliant services.

The UK is home to hundreds of umbrella companies but not all act compliantly or offer the same levels of service and benefits.

How do recruiters and contractors discern the difference between a good and bad umbrella?

Poor practice in the umbrella industry

Unfortunately, poor practice is all too common among umbrella companies. As well as there being lots of companies operating without robust systems and processes, such as appropriate levels of cyber security to ensure secure payment systems are protected from hackers, there are those that deliberately set out to evade tax. It’s all too easy for well-meaning recruiters and contractors to fall foul of fraudsters.

Examples include:

  • Mini umbrellas – these occur when multiple limited companies are formed to circumnavigate tax obligations. Mini umbrellas pose as legitimate umbrella companies, but only a small number of temporary workers are employed by each one.

The mini umbrella commits fraud, usually by taking advantage of the VAT Flat Rate Scheme and Employment Allowance but can also fail to deduct income tax and National Insurance correctly from your pay.

The lure of mini umbrellas is that they make a contractor’s take-home pay higher than when calculated by a legitimate umbrella. Ultimately, the correct amount of tax doesn’t get handed over to HMRC and the contractor and their recruitment agency find themselves mixed up in fraud.

Mini umbrellas leave recruiters exposed to risk, as liability can move up the labour supply chain.

  • Loan schemes – some umbrella companies devise complicated loan schemes or offshore arrangements. These boil down to nothing more than tax evasion, a criminal offence which all parties need to steer clear of. If a payslip is anything other than straight-forward, beware.


How to choose a good Umbrella

Whether you’re a contractor or a recruiter, no-one should risk being involved in non-compliant umbrella companies.

The beauty of doing your research and staying with a good umbrella company like Crest Plus is that you know you are working with a compliant and reputable company. Pay is properly and transparently calculated, all workers pay the correct amount of tax, National Insurance etc and are protected with all the statutory employee benefits such as holiday pay and sick pay.

Things to consider when choosing a good Umbrella:

  • FCSA accreditation
  • History & track record
  • Straight-forward pay calculation and payslip
  • Quality customer service


FCSA accreditation

We are accredited by the FCSA for both umbrella and CIS payment services. Each year we undergo rigorous independent inspection to ensure we adhere to the strict code of conduct set out by the FCSA, the independent body that oversees standards in our industry.

History and track record

We have supported umbrella and CIS workers for 25 years. We pay around 10,000 contractors week in and week out. And we support many of the UK’s top recruitment firms which demand the highest levels of support for their contractors. We are proud to be rated ‘excellent’ on Trustpilot with 80% of contractors giving us 5-star reviews.

Straight-forward pay calculation and payslip + employee benefits

We will provide all workers with an accurate pay illustration before they sign up with Crest Plus. This will help all parties to see compliant payments, with all the required deductions for income tax, National Insurance and any other items relating to an individual (such as student loans).

Payslips are accompanied by an explanation, so workers understand exactly how their take-home pay is calculated.

Additionally, because umbrella contractors become an employees of Crest Plus, they are entitled to standard employee benefits such as holiday pay and sick pay as well as maternity/paternity leave.

Umbrella and CIS self-employed workers also get access to a comprehensive insurance package, including personal accident which covers each worker’s commute too, all at no additional cost. Plus, they automatically join our exclusive perks and rewards scheme, Crest Plus Advantage, which gives discounts on everything from the weekly shop to fashion, home and garden and electronics plus special offers on cinema and leisure, and access to health and wellbeing resources online. There’s also 10% off year-round at B&Q TradePoint and great value travel insurance available too.

Quality customer service

If your umbrella isn’t available to you by phone, this is a warning sign. A good umbrella will have specially trained staff available to help workers and recruiters whenever they need it. If your umbrella doesn’t provide good customer service, choose a more professional company to work with.

Our expert team is available during regular office hours from Monday to Friday, plus you can login to our secure portal wherever you are to access your personal records and payslips.

With you for the long-term…

Once a worker has joined Crest Plus, it’s really easy to stay with us whenever there’s a need to switch assignments. No additional paperwork, we require some basic information and then will process accurate, on time payments, just as before.

In summary, find a good Umbrella like Crest Plus, and stay with us. We’ll be with you every step of the way.

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