Apprenticeship levy costs offset to nurses working through umbrella companies

At Thornbury Nursing we don’t allow our nurses to be paid via an umbrella company, nor do we allow a third party to manage their payments. Why? Because we don’t believe that these schemes benefit our workers. Since the introduction of the government-led Apprenticeship Levy scheme, we’ve heard that some umbrella companies are off-setting this employment cost onto nurses who choose to work through them. We believe this is unfair.

What is an apprenticeship levy?

The Apprenticeship Levy is a tax on UK employers (whose wage bill exceeds £3million) to fund apprenticeship training. The tax is charged at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s paybill. The apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 to encourage UK businesses to better invest in the training and upskilling of their workforce. If a company does not spend the total tax amount on apprentice training and upskilling their workforce, the remaining amount must be paid to the government as an additional tax – the company cannot retain it as additional profit.

I’m an agency nurse, why am I paying an apprenticeship levy fee?

Unfortunately, a number of umbrella companies are off-setting this new employment tax onto their umbrella candidates, with many not receiving an uplifted pay rate to cover the additional charge. This is leaving nurses out of pocket, with umbrella companies profiting the difference.

Unite the Union launched a campaign last year, challenging umbrella companies who were charging their workers. Unite identified that although it was highly immoral to pass this cost on to the worker, it is not illegal – provided the worker has agreed to the deduction.

Ask the question

If you are being charged an apprenticeship levy fee by your umbrella company, check the terms and conditions you signed when you joined. If you’re considering working through an umbrella company in the future, ask about this charge before you sign up.

We appreciate that some agency nurses will choose to work through an umbrella company if they are registered with multiple agencies, but we encourage you to research any umbrella company before you sign up. Ensure they are HMRC compliant and do not plan to offset any unscrupulous employment costs to you.

You deserve to work with a company who is open and honest with you about your pay and any associated fees. At Thornbury Nursing, we will always be honest with you. We will always pay what we say.

Confused? Read why we don’t pay our nurses through umbrella companies here.

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