At Astute, we value each and every contractor we place and strive to offer them a friendly and streamlined service from first placement through to onboarding and beyond.

Through good communication and a professional service, we aim to build lasting relationships with the contractor community.

Our experienced compliance team are on hand to provide guidance throughout a contractor’s journey with us. We know timeliness is everything to our clients and we are well-versed in the challenge of quick turnaround assignments without compromising on due diligence. We also understand the importance of sharing our knowledge with contractors and clients as they navigate through a world of never-ending legislation.

We are committed to mitigating risk in our supply chain and always look to be one step ahead when it comes to changes within the recruitment industry so we can advise our contractors and clients accordingly. That’s why Astute is an FCSA (Freelance and Contractor Services Association) Supply Chain Partner. This means our approved list of payroll intermediaries are all FCSA accredited members who have undergone a thorough auditing process to ensure the highest standards are being met.

Take a look at some of the most frequent contractor questions for some key information about the contracting process. If you have a query which isn’t answered below or need to speak to someone about a timesheet, please contact a member of our Compliance Team on 02392 221 600 option 2 or email

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Frequently Asked Questions

For many British citizens, this will be a passport. Alternatively, a full birth certificate and proof of National Insurance (NI) number is acceptable. Further details can be found on the Government website here. For non-British citizens, a right to work check will need to be completed through the Government website using a share code. 

We can engage with contractors via their own PSC (Personal Service Company i.e. limited company) or on a PAYE basis under a contract of employment via a payroll intermediary (more commonly known as an umbrella company). We can also consider engagement under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) via a PSC, or a third party where a Supervision, Direction or Control (SDC) test has been successfully passed.

We operate a mobile-friendly online timesheet portal, InTime. Contractors are responsible for submitting their timesheet via the system on a weekly or monthly basis by 8pm on the Monday following the period worked. The end client then has until Tuesday 12pm to approve the timesheet. 

Contractors working via a payroll intermediary will usually be paid 7 days in arrears following the end of the period worked. Limited company contractors are usually paid 14 days in arrears following the end of the period worked.

Running your own limited company means you are ‘in business on your own account’ and therefore, having adequate insurance in place is essential to ensure the supply chain is protected in the event of a claim. It also helps to support an outside IR35 status and demonstrate there could be financial risk.


It is an Astute contractual requirement (and a general standard of recruitment agencies) that you have the following insurances and limits in place: 

  • Professional Indemnity £1m
  • Public Liability £5m
  • Employer’s Liability £10m


For more information, please refer to our ‘Insurances Required’ document.

If the company is already on our preferred supplier list (PSL), then yes. If not, then no - it is important the necessary checks have been undertaken in our supply chain and only those companies on our PSL may be used.

The rate quoted will be an ‘assignment rate’ – this has been uplifted to cover employment costs, such as holiday pay, employer’s NI and pension. Further details and a pay illustration will be provided by your chosen payroll company. It is important you are fully informed of your anticipated net pay prior to commencement of an assignment – please contact us if you are unsure what your rate is.


IR35 is the commonly used term for the UK legislation introduced over 20 years ago to prevent“disguised employment” tax avoidance.

In simple terms, avoidance arises when the disguised employee takes advantage of lower taxationoffered to corporates than that given to individuals, by working through an intermediary vehicle,such as a personal service company (PSC).

Reforms to this legislation were introduced in the Public Sector in 2017, and then rolled out to thePrivate Sector in 2021. From 6 April 2021, the responsibility for determining an IR35 status changedfrom the director of the PSC to the end client (when working with medium or large businesses). Thefee payer (usually the agency) then has the responsibility for ensuring the correct tax and NICs arededucted from the fees and paid to HMRC.

The IR35 test focuses on several key elements including control, right of substitution, mutuality ofobligation and financial risk: -

Who is in control of what, when, where and how the work is done?

Right of substitution
Can the contractor substitute who provides their services?

Mutuality of obligation
Does the client have an obligation to offer work and does the contractor have to accept?

Financial risk
Does the contractor face financial risk? e.g. for late delivery, quality issues?HMRC have an online tool to assist with the above and help make correct status determinations,CEST (Check Employment Status for Tax).If you require further information or support, please get in touch with our Compliance team who willbe happy to help.

Insurances Required

Ahead of commencing an assignment, we require all limited company contractors to be appropriately insured.

Why do I need insurance?

As a limited company contractor operating in business on your own account, insurances are a critical requirement. This provides assurance to all parties that your business is adequately protected in the event of a claim against you. It also demonstrates financial risk and helps to support your IR35 status.

Does Astute require me to have insurance?

Yes. To ensure your business is fully protected and compliant with our requirements, all limited company contractors must have the relevant insurances in place. You will also be asked to provide documentary evidence of this.

Professional Indemnity (limit required £1m)

- Professional Indemnity covers contractors who provide expertise, skills or advice. If you are accused of professional negligence, making an error or omission, or giving bad advice which results in a client losing money, this insurance provides cover for legal defence costs and damages awarded against you. It also covers any breach of confidence and sharing confidential commercially sensitive information without consent.

Public Liability (limit required £5m)

- Public Liability insurance provides cover if someone is injured or property is damaged as a result of your actions whilst supplying services. Whether you are on your own premises or at a client’s site, you have a duty to protect anyone who might be affected by your activities. If you fail to do this, you may have to pay substantial compensation.

Employers’ Liability (limit required £10m)

- A compulsory insurance for all UK businesses with employees, Employers’ Liability insurance provides protection against claims from employees. Regardless of your set-up, this is often insisted upon and may be needed in the event a substitute is required to provide services during the course of your assignment.

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