Umbrella vs Limited Company

Becoming part of the flexible workforce (i.e. choosing to no longer be a permanent employee), is a big decision.  The laws governing this space are complex, with numerous financial, tax and legal regulations to adhere to, and there are a large number of service provider organisations that support these workers.  Most people decide to work either through an umbrella firm or through their own limited company.  There are advantages to both, and we have outlined these below.

Umbrella firms take care of the tax implications of contracting, whilst providing you with continuity of employment with all statutory rights, yet also enabling you to fulfil a series of short term assignments.  If you are considering this option, you should also read our section outlining how compliant umbrellas operate.

In contrast, working through your own limited company will generally provide you with higher take-home pay, but in return you will be responsible for all of the legalities involved running your company.  There are many specialist accountants that are able to support you in this process.


Umbrella Limited Company
You become an employee, allowing you to work on a series of assignments without running your own company. You set up your own company, become a director of the company, and you are responsible for running the company.

  • Ease of set up
  • Centralised tax administration via PAYE
  • All statutory employment benefits
  • Tax deductible travel & subsistence expenses
  • Low risk

  • Total control of your tax and financial affairs
  • Higher take home income
  • Option to legitimately reclaim more business costs than working via an umbrella
  • Flat rate VAT enables you to retain some of the VAT you receive

  • Less take home pay
  • Less control compared to your own limited company

  • Set up administration – company name, address, directors, articles of association
  • Obtain bank account
  • Sole responsibility for the administration of your business
  • You must show that you are genuinely self-employed and not just a disguised employee.


The FCSA code of conduct covers both umbrella and limited company accountancy providers, with some members providing just one type of service, some offer both.  Whether you are looking for an umbrella or to set up your own company, by choosing to work with an FCSA Accredited Member you will have peace of mind that they are fully compliant and working to the highest possible ethical standards.