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How Do I Get Paid As a Freelancer?


LAST UPDATED: June 23, 2023

As a UK freelancer, there are several different ways you can be paid for the work you do and it can get very confusing. Below we've given you an overview of the three main options, so that you can make an informed decision as to which one works best for you.


As a PAYE contractor, the agency will pay you directly and you will be entitled to benefits such as holiday, pensions, sick pay, etc. which the agency will calculate for you. You will submit a timecard to your agency and they will then pay your net amount into your personal bank account.

What do I need to do?

You don't need to do anything! Simply inform your agency that you wish to be paid PAYE and they will do the rest. You will need to provide them with a current P45 or, if you don't have access to one, you'll be asked to complete a new starter checklist.

Umbrella Companies

An umbrella company will act as your employer and you will be paid directly by them. As with PAYE, you will be entitled to benefits and taxable reductions which the umbrella company will calculate for you. Some umbrella companies will charge a fee for service, either in the form of a % deduction of your gross pay or as a cost per invoice. In addition to this fee, they may pass the cost of Employer's National Insurance on to you. You will be required to submit a timecard to both your umbrella company and your agency. The umbrella company will then invoice your agency who will pay your gross pay to them, they will then make any reductions and pay your net amount into your bank account. If you are registered and work with multiple agencies, your umbrella company may combine all these into one single payment.

What do I need to do?

Research! There are many different umbrella companies and the choice of which one to go with is completely up to you. Make sure you thoroughly look into each one to determine which one is best for your needs. A few options are listed below, but there are many more available.

Limited Company

A very popular option with freelancers is to set up their own limited company. If you belong to a limited company, you will submit your timecard and invoice your agency directly and they will pay your gross amount into your limited company's bank account. It is then down to you to declare your earnings to HMRC and complete your tax return. You don't receive any benefits such as holiday, sick pay and pensions from your agency.

What do I need to do?

You need to set up your limited company. This is done through Companies House for a small fee. The full details for how to do this and what you will need in order to set up your company can be found on their website. Alternatively, many freelancers prefer to hire an Accountant to do this for them.

There is no right answer to which option is best, it is completely up to you to decide what will work well for you and your personal situation. The key is to ensure you fully research each alternative before you make your choice.

If you'd like more helpful tips and advice for your job hunt you can check out our free ‘how to' guide on all you could ever want to know when searching for your next role. Download it here.