Skip to main content

Alternative contracting options

The economic impact of COVID and the uncertain outlook has necessitated employers looking for alternative ways to staff their businesses, other than by using permanent employees.

Permanent employees can be expensive, and if they have not already started doing so, many businesses will need to rethink their workforce strategy.

For most employers this has so far meant dramatic changes to the structure of their workforce and the way their staff work. For some, it has also meant that there is insufficient work to keep all their staff meaningfully employed. Tighter regulation, litigation risk and reputational hazards are making it harder to rely on some of the available alternative contracting options – such as zero hours contracts and “gig economy” type arrangements.

We are inevitably seeing an increase in the use of freelancers, fixed term employees and agency workers for specific projects.  The use of intermediaries (such as agencies and umbrella companies) between the “freelancer” and the end-user organisation is also set to increase further in the run up to, and following the forthcoming reforms to the IR35 rules, which come into effect in April 2021.

There has also been talk of a jobless recovery where employers recruit robots not people for certain tasks.

Further reading

Related services


New apprenticeship funding rules – what’s changing?

15 July 2021

Employers will need to comply with new funding rules for apprenticeships starting from the beginning of August if they want to qualify for funding. We explain the main changes.

Staffing solutions and the supply of labour

29 June 2021

The supply of labour is a growing area of the UK economy. As employers require more flexible staffing solutions, new business models have emerged offering a range of labour-supply options.


Flexible staffing options

17 June 2021

There are other ways to staff a business apart from using permanent employees on full time contracts.


The world of employment law: Casual, on-call and freelance workers

09 March 2021

Questions of employment status continue to preoccupy courts and legislators, as new technology and new ways of working pose a challenge to traditional definitions of employee and contractor. Cases on this issue are being brought around the world, many of which revolve around taxi and delivery drivers engaged through digital platforms.

Covid 19 - EMI options

Clarification of IR35 reforms in Budget

04 March 2021

Helpful clarifications of the forthcoming changes to off-payroll working arrangements in the private sector were contained in a policy paper released by HMRC as part of the 2021 Budget.

Supreme Court confirms that Uber drivers are workers

22 February 2021

The Supreme Court has unanimously decided that drivers engaged by Uber are workers rather than independent contractors. It also decided that drivers are working when they are signed into the Uber app and ready to work.


IR35 reforms and international issues

21 January 2021

The new IR35 rules create some particularly complex issues where a contractor is based outside the UK. This article looks at some of the frequently asked questions.

Back To Top