BAJR Federation Archaeology
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Self Employment - archie - 31st August 2011

Hello all,

A friend and I were talking the other day (over quite a few beers) of the possibilities of going self employed, however, we quickly realised that we knew very little about ....

a) how to do it,
b) the benefits,
c) the pitfalls,

...apart from the usual rumour that you hear in the site hut.

So I was wondering whether the distinguished members of this forum had any advice, links, information to offer??!!!

Self Employment - Marcus Brody - 31st August 2011

There are a few BAJR guides that would be useful, specifically Guide 17: Employed or Self-Employed in Archaeology, Guide 3: Getting Paid, and Guide 27: Insurance in Archaeology. These are all available here.

Self Employment - Wax - 31st August 2011

It is surprisingly easy to register as self-employed. Do a search on registering as self employed in the UK and it should take you to the relevant Government web sites. There are free courses run by the Government on keeping records and doing tax returns I would recommend these. You can always be employed and self employed at the same time. Do keep good records for tax purposes pay your national insurance and make sure you have appropriate professional and public liability insurance (not cheap but necessary)

I have clients who insist on seeing a tax reference number and evidence of insurance before taking me on. It takes about five weeks after registering before you get your number. You can take on self-employed work at any time but you must register for tax within three months of taking it on.

Getting paid on time is a real problem so do have something in reserve before you go down this route.

If you have clients lined up then best of luck but keep all your options open. There are many self-employed archaeologists out there and competition is tough.

Do take up the government training schemes as there is a lot you can off set against tax and they will help you with this.

Tax returns and the associated records are the difficult bit.

You are unlikely turn over enough to need to register for VAT but do look into this so as not to get caught out.

Personally I aim for employment with a company or organisation so they deal with all the tax issues etc, but I do keep the self-employment option open for the occasional bit of freelance work It means I have to fill in my own tax return but this has not been too much of a problem so far.

Best of luck, becoming self-employed is the easy bit finding the work and getting paid is the difficult bit.

Do try and save something and remember to keep your prices as high as you can to cover all the hidden costs (BAJR guide lines are good).

I get very ...... of with hobby archaeologists who undercut and are virtually doing the work for free

If you have been unemployed for sometime there may even be Government financial help available to get you started

Self Employment - P Prentice - 31st August 2011

@ wax - good advice

as an employer - the fact that someone is self employed can be an advantage as they are more expendable. and be sure that if you are going to charge over the odds that you make up for it by being more flexible than anybody else

Self Employment - Jack - 31st August 2011

Yep all good advice.

Also talk to the tax people. They can be really friendly and helpful in person if you get an appointment.

Self Employment - kevin wooldridge - 31st August 2011

Wax Wrote:You are unlikely turn over enough to need to register for VAT but do look into this so as not to get caught out.

The current VAT threshold is ?71,000 (c ?1400 per week) which sounds a lot, but that is turnover and not earnings. If you find yourself hiring a machine or site hut or vehicle or sub-contracting work, irrespective of how you are recompensed, you might easily end up approaching the threshold. I'd talk to HMRC about this aspect as well....

Self Employment - Digger - 31st August 2011

Agree with all the above. Just do some homework, crunch a few numbers and talk to lots of people. You may have friends or family (not in arch) in business who can help you out.

All the best!

Self Employment - Dinosaur - 1st September 2011

P Prentice Wrote:- the fact that someone is self employed can be an advantage as they are more expendable...

Lucky, don't think Jack read your post very carefully! Wink

Self Employment - BAJR - 2nd September 2011

I did notice that one.. and liked the carefree attitude. Smile

Charging over the odds... or charging what you are worth. plus making sure you cover all the additional expenses that are incurred by being self employed.

So if you charge say 500 quid a week as a digger (and you better be good) that equates to :
G2 : (ie Basic Site Assistant) ?15,704.64 (?302.01 pw)
G3 : (ie Site Assistant 2 or Technical 1 ?16,762.26 (?322.36 pw)

As you have other responsibilities and costs. So you end up slightly better off, but it is not a direct comparison (as some people think) WOW... they are making tons more than me... no they are not Smile
But you are then your own boss and can be more flexible in terms of when and where you work. That said, eating and paying bills always comes into the equation!

Self Employment - archie - 2nd September 2011

Thank you for all the great responses , they are all very helpful!

Is ?500 a week the average then?

If I do want to get self employed I don't want to get laughed out of the office by using ridiculous rates?!!