From Lockdown to Unlocked

Insight from Pendragon Consultancy C.E.O Janet De Havilland

2020 has been a year that we never could have imagined. From a business perspective, we have lived through recessions and economic challenges before, but no one knew how to prepare for the COVID19 pandemic which has rocked the modern world. I heard an excellent saying a while ago, “We may all be in the same storm, but we are in very different boats” and for Pendragon this is exactly how these uncertain times have felt. We were fortunate enough to have been able to stabilise our ship, (in truth boat) almost as soon as lock down occurred, already used to a number of flexible working arrangements, our business closed its office doors in March and the move to home working was almost effortless. For us, the major uncertainty was around the ability to furlough our contractors, the HMRC and government guidelines did not provide any clarity around this sector of the UK workforce and for many weeks they were forgotten about despite the treasury digging deep to support other employment sectors. Even after clarity was finally provided and we were able to place our staff on furlough, there are still many contractors and freelancers within the UK workforce who have been less fortunate and who have been left out in the cold. At Pendragon however, we are continuing to support all of our furloughed contractors until the end of October aligned to the government support and we received a heart-warming testimonial from one of our professional contractors about the support he had received through the COVID crisis which you can read on our website by clicking here. The wheels of compliance did not stop turning during lockdown and Pendragon Consultancy was the first organisation to have their annual audit by the FCSA during this period and I am delighted to announce that we passed again with flying colours, thanks to the fantastic efforts of the Pendragon team. Lockdown also brought about many interesting and sometimes challenging conversations with our clients, many of whom were nervous about the IR35 reforms which has marched on despite the lobbying and the damning report from the House of Lords. The reforms, due to come into force in April 2021 has the potential to deal yet another devastating blow to businesses and contractors alike. As Pendragon is fast becoming the “go to” independent consultancy for compliance advice, and help with risk free, simple employment solutions; we had started conversations with our current and prospective client base from within the UK and those overseas which engage a UK contract workforce. The theme of many of the conversations was the need to find an alternative solution to using traditional umbrella employment for contractors. They wanted a PAYE solution which was transparent and simple to manage, coupled with the recognition that so many contractors have fallen through the financial support net during the pandemic because of bad business practices and poor contracts. There is a gap in the market for a simplified outsourced PAYE solution that is not driven by companies avoiding their fair share of the associated employment costs, and which is instead simplified, transparent and with no fees to contractors – and so Pendragon Employ PEO was born.

Pendragon Employ PEO

Employ PEO is a fantastic addition to the contracting sector and a real alternative to the traditional umbrella employment model. It has all the best parts of Umbrella and none of the downsides. Employ PEO is the only FCSA approved single employment solution which brings next generation PAYE employment directly to End Clients and to Agencies. It is designed for clients with larger contractor bases willing to take on the responsibilities of funding employment costs. We have clients currently trialling this soltion from the US, Asia and nationally using the service and the feedback is “It’s simply great ! Our contractors have never been happier and its cost-effective and time saving” Pendragon handles all the employment management and is the employer of record which for us is a plus and we’ve actually won business because our contractors are employed via PAYE through Pendragon” Employ PEO is a client led solution and therefore whilst we would welcome any contractors that would like to choose to work with us as their preferred option, they must put us in touch with their End Clients or Agency and we will take it from there. For those contractors who prefer to deal with Pendragon directly via traditional umbrella employment, we still have our Classic Umbrella offering available with special offers to assist in welcoming people back to work, so get in touch with one of the team .Eight weeks ago after much deep cleaning and agreements on how we could run the office with a COVID conscious mindset to ensure the safeguarding of all of our staff, we finally opened the office doors again and are starting to get used to this “new normal” approach to working. The staff actually requested to come back, although a couple are still working from home until the schools reopen. I am so personally passionate about being able to offer something really different and exciting in the flexible employment space, and that our major focus now will be on the successful launch of Employ PEO .We want to work with clients who share our passion and our core values and I am delighted to say that after many months in the planning, Employ PEO is finally here and will be able to deliver simple, effective, and compliant PAYE employment with no fees to contractors. As a wise man once said, “There is never a wrong time to do the right thing” so if you are interested in speaking to us to find out more about Pendragon Employ PEO and how it can work for your business, please get in touch