Umbrella companies

In recent years, the use of so-called 'umbrella companies' has spread across the economy, although the problem is much worse in some sectors than in others. The basic purpose of an umbrella company arrangement is to shift responsibility for tax, employers' national insurance and employee rights from the business onto the worker.

Construction union UCATT has described the use of umbrella companies as "an extreme form of workplace exploitation", which often goes hand-in-hand with workers being forced to work on zero hours contracts.

As well as the construction sector, umbrella companies are increasingly prevalent in supply teaching.


You can find reports and information about UCATT’s campaign over the spread of umbrella companies on its website.

Teaching unions also provide information, as umbrella company arrangements have become a feature of supply teaching.

TaxAid is a charity that helps people on low incomes with their tax affairs. It runs a public helpline: 0345 120 3779.

Citizens Advice provides advice at the local office near you and also runs a helpline.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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