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IR35 Reform: What Contractors are Looking for From Recruiters


As IR35 reform gets closer, you will notice more of your contractors getting worried about it. For example, you can expect to field more questions about what the client intends to do and what their process will be, particularly if you’re discussing a contract that ends after April 2021. The main concern potential candidates will have, is that they’ll be carelessly and incorrectly placed inside IR35, meaning their income will fall and working through their PSC will be less viable.

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Most contractors will prefer to work outside IR35 where possible, and that means they’ll need a client who is willing to engage in the right way, and assess IR35 status correctly. As a recruiter, trying to place the right contractors with your clients, your role will be to advise the client correctly, so they can give those well informed contractors what they’re looking for.

If your clients don’t follow this advice, you can expect to have much more difficulty getting highly skilled contractors to accept assignments with them.

Care and attention

From your contractors’ point of view, the biggest danger is that the client will not devote the required time and resources to the issue of determining IR35 status. This is likely to leave them either making blanket determinations, or refusing to work with PSCs all together. Your contractors will be looking for clients who understand the importance of this issue and will give it the care and attention it needs.

A clear and open strategy

Most businesses didn’t need to consider IR35 until recently, so their response to the reform will require planning and expertise. Those who intend to assess status correctly and engage contractors outside IR35 will need to implement a complex project, involving training for internal staff as well as assessment of their contingent workforce. Your contractors will want to work for clients who are taking action now, and are able to discuss their IR35 process in detail.

Regular contact with existing contractors is an important part of this. Even if they’re not included in the decision-making process, they should be kept informed, and they should know exactly what’s expected of them when it comes to assessing their status. Contractors talk to each other all the time, both in person and online, so if a high-profile client is failing to communicate, you can expect potential candidates to hear about it.

Individual IR35 assessments

It’s important that each contractor’s IR35 status is assessed individually. “Role based” assessments may form part of the process, particularly where a contractor has not yet been recruited, but these are for information purposes and cannot be used as a replacement for individual assessments. Well informed contractors will take a lack of individual assessments as a red flag, and many will simply look elsewhere.

Not relying on CEST to assess IR35 status

The Government’s Check Employment Status for Tax tool has been heavily criticised, for ignoring case law, giving inaccurate results and displaying a bias towards “inside IR35” assessments. In addition, HMRC’s promise to stand by the results has proved to only apply when they agree with them, so using the Government’s tool doesn’t actually provide any protection.

The news that a client is using CEST may alarm your contractors, unless you can assure them that it’s being used in conjunction with other resources, including opinions from genuine IR35 experts.

Getting help from IR35 compliance experts

The involvement of an expert like Orange Genie Compliance in the IR35 assessment process will give your contractors confidence that the client intends to do things properly.

With access to our assessment tool and our dedicated experts, your clients can quickly assess their contingent workforce and create an “IR35 friendly” environment, allowing them to safely engage more contractors outside IR35.

Again, well informed contractors will want to see this kind of pro-active action, making it easier for you to recruit the best talent for clients who take it.

If you have questions or if we can help in any way, please call our expert team on 01296 468 483 or email

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