As part of our series of articles looking at life as a contractor, we introduce Olivia O’Kane who talks about what it’s like to be an Umbrella employee.
Olivia , 23, is a teaching assistant from New Zealand with experience in working with young people with special needs. Her priority was to find contract work which would allow her to earn money whilst also having the flexibility to take time off to travel. Olivia now works as an Umbrella contractor, so we take care of her payments, handling tax, National Insurance and other pay-related issues on Olivia’s behalf.
How did you find work when you arrived in the UK?
I contacted a recruitment agency and they found a couple of contracts for me. Contracting is an ideal situation for me. I want to do lots of travelling while I’m here so as a contractor I’m not tied in to doing set, full-time hours. I’ve got lots of flexibility so the agency will find work for me when I need it, but they can also find someone else to cover if I’m not available.
What did you know about Umbrella working?
I had an initial conversation with JSA and they explained everything to me and made it all clear. Obviously, the UK tax system is new to me, so it was good to know that was all taken care of. Also, it was good to know I could build up holiday pay or have it paid to me, that suited my situation very well too. I was aware that I could join a pension scheme, but I haven’t done so as it didn’t seem worth my while as I’ll be returning to New Zealand.
What would you say are the drawbacks of contracting?
The only drawback really is job security, though in my case that’s not such a major issue. Also, you don’t build the same relationships if you’re in a school for only a few weeks.
What are the benefits?
Flexibility is the biggest benefit. The fact that I can teach and do what I’m trained to do while only working the hours that suit me is fantastic.
How did you find JSA’s services?
JSA have been great, they’ve made it really easy. If I haven’t understood something they’ve always been available to me, and have explained everything in a clear and concise way.