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MA/SMP, sole trader, Ltd company, PAYE.. so confused

(2 Posts)
meandmyduvet Sun 23-Nov-14 11:48:51

Any advice would be so welcome. I am struggling to get my head round all this.

I am a healthcare professional and currently do locum work full time. I am registered with HMRC as a sole trader. Basically I work shifts in various hospitals, submit time sheets to an employment agency that find me this work, and am subsequently paid by the agency. Submit self-assessment tax returns.

Occasionally some hospitals I work at insist on using staff-flow, and I am then paid PAYE by that particular hospital on contracts set up just for individual shifts, which I don't mind, as by doing this I continue to contribute to my NHS pension.

I pay class 2+4 NI contributions and higher rate tax.

I am now in very early pregnancy, due July 2015. My plan was to continue working shifts until 32-24 weeks then start claiming maternity allowance for 6 months before starting to work again.

However, the agency that pay me for my shifts are now changing payment practices due to some government legislation about tax avoidance, and the upshot of it is that as of 2015 I am informed I can no longer be a sole trader, but have to chose between PAYE or setting up a Ltd company.

If I chose to set up a Ltd company, then I won't have been employed by it 26 weeks before the 15th week prior to my due date, so I won't qualify for SMP? And as I won't be earning very much (6 months mat leave) I'm not sure the added costs of setting up a Ltd would work for me.
If I chose PAYE, then I will no longer be a sole trader, so not eligible for MA either. And the hospitals that will be paying me PAYE are just doing so on contracts that last for the duration of the shift, so have no obligation to pay me SMP. So I can't figure out which option is best for me.

Does this make sense to anyone? I am planning on getting in touch with an accountant but would be grateful for a heads up first. I've always done my own books (usually very simple) but I now feel very out of depth.

TalkinPeace Mon 24-Nov-14 18:05:43

Simplest move is to tell the agency that you are pregnant
that then puts them in a bind to look after you until you pop grin

I did the same with my agency many moons ago and it was fine : I got full SMP based on my earnings through them

your "agency" sound more like an umbrella company that is getting round the IR35 rules
so yes, you'll need your own accounting advice
I'd suggest finding an expert on healthcare locums from this forum

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