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Pregnant, single, zero hour contract & also self employed - Advice please?

(15 Posts)
TreadingTheBoards Wed 11-Mar-15 23:54:59


Well I have no idea what to do, don't know where I stand and am looking for some advice if possible. I'm 8 weeks pregnant, I also have a school age child. Partner been cheating and doesn't want to try and make things work. He owns the property that we lived in as a family, my name was not on mortgage and so i've had to leave. Fortunately my lovely Mum is taking us in for the foreseeable future.

Ok, i'm self employed, not earning much (say £70 a week over 2 days - 16 hours) This was absolutely fine as ex was earning decent money, but now i've found myself single and i'm going to be on my own with two kids I know I need to earn more. I'm now claiming child tax and working tax credit which is helping, but in order to move out in the future I need to be earning more than what i'm getting. To cut a long, boring story short I have been offered a job with a really big organisation, there is scope to move up the ladder in the future but for the time being they can only offer me a zero hour contract. They said they will email me once a month, tell me the hours that are available that month and I will pick and choose what I can do around childcare. I'm taking the job as it's fairly decent pay and it's a foot in the door. The hours are part time.

I'll have to keep my self employment up, certainly for the time being anyway, so i'm looking for advice on how this will work with tax credits? Am I allowed to be both self employed and employed on a zero hour contract? How the hell am I supposed to tell what they should base my claim on? I'll be scared to take more hours in case I go over and end up paying lots of money back. Do I just make an educated guess as to what i'll earn in a year and ask them to base it on that?

Also, I know i'll qualify for maternity allowance when the baby is born as i've been self employed for a couple of years and I pay my national insurance, but will I be allowed to claim it because I also work as an employee for this organisation? I don't plan on claiming SMP as it hasn't been discussed and I would imagine I don't qualify?

Any advice as to what I should do would be greatly appreciated. Stressed to death and not sure what to do for the best. It all seems so complicated and I can't find any information online about my situation.

TreadingTheBoards Thu 12-Mar-15 00:07:57

*Just to add, how am I supposed to know what hours to tell HMRC i'm working? Some weeks i'll have to reduce my self employed hours in order to fit more hours employed work in when it's available, as I can earn a lot more per hour with the employed work than they self employed work, but the employed work is only 3 hour shifts. Hope i'm making sense, it's difficult to explain!

GorgeousPie Thu 12-Mar-15 10:16:25

Hi :-) Sorry I don't have much to offer but have you thought about going for a chat with someone at the Citizens Advice Bureau?

MsAspreyDiamonds Thu 12-Mar-15 10:57:44

Sorry to hear of your situation, do contact CAB and also HMRC for advice regarding tax and zero contract hours.

It might be helpful for you to speak to woman's aid as they have lots of experience. They can advise you about claiming maintenance from your ex and establishing contact with him for your dc.

It seems unfair that you had to become homeless due to his unreasonable behaviour. Were you together when he bought the property & how long where you a couple for? I would speak to a solicitor if I were you, most offer a free 30 min consultation.

TeaandHobnobs Thu 12-Mar-15 11:02:45

Really sorry you are in this situation, but you sound very strong and determined.

AFAIK, you can claim MA if you are self-employed and also employed, but you are not eligible for SMP through your employer. You will need to get your employer to complete a SMP1 form to explain why you are not eligible, and include this with your application for MA.

I hope you find some good advice with the rest of it smile

Annahmolly Thu 12-Mar-15 11:29:31

Give Maternity Action a call! They have a phone-line with legal advisers who will give you tailored advice based on your personal situation. It can be difficult to get through (it's a charity, and resources are limited), but they are VERY knowledgeable about maternity rights, employment, benefits, etc.

The number is: 0845 600 85 33. I don't remember the opening times but if it's closed you'll get an answerphone message.

They've also got information sheets written by legally qualified staff, on the website. I used to work for them, but not as an adviser so I can't help you unfortunately. Good luck!

TreadingTheBoards Thu 12-Mar-15 15:03:14

Massive thanks for the replies, really appreciate them. Will give maternity action a call when I get the chance.

My main concern is telling tax credits how many hours I work, as it's going to vary, but will definitely be a minimum of 16, as I can commit that to my self employment if no employed work is available that week. The zero hours contract hours is 10pm to 1am, as my Mum is home & my DD will be in bed, or she can stay at her Dad's. Other times it will be 11am to 2pm but I won't be able to fit as many hours self employed in then as I can only really work school hours.

Do you think CAB will be able to advise me what to tell tax credits?

Oh and ex bought the house when we were together & I was pregnant, I weren't earning enough to pay half the mortgage. We were together 13 years & engaged. Really shocked he's done this.

BloodyDogHairs Thu 12-Mar-15 15:15:00

I was on 2 zero hour contracts, I estimated what I was likely to earn for that year. I usually over estimated as it meant if more hours became available I would take them. Over estimated also meant I got a lump sum once the final figures were sent to tax credits.

missymayhemsmum Thu 12-Mar-15 21:46:10

Hi OP, one of the useful things about the self employment rules for tax credits is that you can include time you spend promoting your business, pitching for work, doing your accounts etc. So if your plan is that your employed plus self employed work will always equal at least 16 hrs you can claim tax credits. The other thing is you can claim childcare tax credits, so if for instance you plan to send your dd to after school club a couple of days a week on average you can claim for 70% of that, which might enable you to commit to usually working 30 hrs in which case you get extra tax credits. You tell them how much you expect to spend on registered childcare and they can check it at the end of the year if they choose but generally they don't. The figure they use for your income is your employed take home pay plus your self employed earnings - that's your total income less your allowed expenses for self employment and tax/NI. It's the full tax year that counts so in predicting your earned income for the next year you should allow for the reduction in income around when you have your baby.

So what your probably need to do is make an educated guess of what you plan/ expect to work/earn/spend on childcare (making sure it's at least 16 or 30 hrs a week) over the next tax year and that's what you tell HMRC. Then keep track of whether it's working out much different so you can let them know if necessary.

Take some advice about the house though, especially if you have been contributing to the bills etc and you have children it doesn't necessarily follow that the house is all his.

TreadingTheBoards Sat 14-Mar-15 11:29:01

Huge thanks, you've helped calm me down so much!

What about tax? Will I just be taxed on my employment? Or do I need to put some money away from my SE?

Purplepoodle Sat 14-Mar-15 11:38:54

You will be taxed through paye as an employee but you will also have to do self assessment tax return too and pay any tax on your self employed earnings

TreadingTheBoards Sat 14-Mar-15 13:25:02

Thank you.

Do they not combine the two and take tax that way?

I won't earn enough to pay tax on my SE (probably) but may do on my zero hours contract.

TeaandHobnobs Sat 14-Mar-15 17:46:10

When you do your tax return for self assessment, you will put in your earnings and tax deducted for your employment, and the amount of tax you owe on your SE will be calculated appropriately (just don't ask me how!)

missymayhemsmum Sun 15-Mar-15 19:29:23

You work it out on the tax form and then give exactly the same figures (earnings after tax)to the tax credits people. If you do this as soon as poss after the end of the tax year you should avoid any overpayments.

Victoria8760 Mon 06-Jul-15 16:31:15

Citizens advice are great I went a few weeks ago and was really surprised at how good they were

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