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Best Umbrella Company - Who Is The Best Umbrella Company?

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With so many umbrella payroll providers on the market, it's difficult to know which one to choose. For contractors, freelancers, and recruiters, there really is just one question. Who is the best umbrella company in the UK?

Are you a contractor looking to sign up with an umbrella company?

Perhaps you've just landed your first contract and your recruiter has suggested that you work through an umbrella company, as opposed to PAYE at the agency? Maybe you're a recruiter looking to refine your umbrella payroll preferred suppliers list?

Whatever the reason, we've come up with a list of six of the most important things to look out for when comparing umbrella companies.

So who is the best umbrella company in the UK?

Well, if you've already been doing some research you'll realise that most if not all of the providers you speak to will claim to be the best umbrella company in the UK.

The truth is, no single provider can honestly claim to be the best umbrella company. With such a myriad of factors to consider, it's difficult if not impossible for anyone to prove that they really are head and shoulders above the rest.

For starters, how do you compare umbrella companies? What makes one umbrella company different to the next? And, more importantly, what makes something more appealing to some (i.e low price) may not necessarily be so important to others.

Let's take a look at the key things to consider when trying to decide who really is the best umbrella company in the UK. If you follow in the criteria below, you'll be on the right track.


Look out for proof of HMRC compliance. Companies such as AEMC, Lawspeed and Professional Passport undertake annual audits to ensure companies are operating on the right side of HMRC.


Only consider umbrella companies that charge a fixed weekly or monthly fee. When comparing admin charges, make sure you use the gross (or before tax) figure. You should NOT be subject to any joining or leaving fees.


Insurance should be included in the admin fee you pay. As an absolute minimum, you'll need Professional Indemnity and Public & Employers Liability Insurance. Additional insurance such as Personal Accident may be thrown in but this a bonus if you get it.


It's almost inevitable nowadays that an umbrella company will provide an electronic method of submitting your timesheets to them. Watch out for providers that substitute a customer service team with an all singing, all dancing portal. The technology may be cutting edge, but you never know when you'll actually need to speak to somebody.

Sundry Extras

Some umbrella companies will allow to you pay into a stakeholder pension scheme, which provides a tax efficient alternative taking a net salary and paying some into an ISA. You may also wish to hunt down the companies that use Child Care Vouchers if this is of value to you.

Umbrella Company League Table

Now that you know what to look for, you're well on your way to finding the perfect umbrella company. To make things a little easier, we have already done all of the research for you.

When you have finished reading this page, head on over to our umbrella company league table to see for yourself who is the best umbrella company in the UK.

Since launching freelancesupermarket.com way back in 2007, the following companies have consistently outperformed the rest of the market, both in terms of compliance, price and above all, customer feedback.

JSA Umbrella
Churchill Knight Umbrella
Smartwork Umbrella

Good Luck!

Further reading

How to compare umbrella companies - a contractor's guide
Contractors beware - not all Umbrella Companies are the same
Umbrella companies - another case of HMRC examination
Umbrella Companies cause HMRC to flex its muscles
What Freelance Contractors Should Know About Umbrella Companies
Does your umbrella company take responsibility?
Whats so special about 24 months?

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Image: tables & umbrella by Walkerbout.Designs

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