Crystal Umbrella


The UK'S No 1 Umbrella Company

Crystal Umbrella is the forward-thinking payment solutions company dedicated to serving the needs of both contractors and recruitment agencies.

We provide an umbrella service, fully IR35 compliant and hassle free solutions for contractors.

Crystal Umbrella

Crystal Umbrella was established by our current owners; two forward thinking entrepreneurs who had the foresight and determination to create an organisation, which removed the day to day legislative nightmare of employing and paying contractors and freelancers.

Today, Crystal are the UK's No 1 PAYE umbrella company, as voted for by contractors themselves at Remaining committed to searching out new ways of further improving standards within the industry and making the lives of our employee contractors as stress free as possible, which is especially important in these difficult times.

Crystal Umbrella was incorporated in 2008 to take over the pioneering and industry leading work initiated by our predecessor No Longer Limited (incorporated in 2001). This strategic expansion and re-brand was designed to give our contractor workforce a clearer understanding of what the company does and to reinforce our commitment to making everything we do ‘crystal clear’.

Since its formation Crystal Umbrella has gone from strength to strength. Now employing over 45 staff at our head office in the picturesque town of Hertford and working with some of the most respected agencies and clients in the UK, we have supplied compliant, prudent and profitable employment management services to some 15,000 contractor employees.

It goes without saying that we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the fantastic relationships we’ve developed with recruitment agencies, recruiters and of course, our hard-working and loyal contractor employees. The primary aim of our award winning service is not only to provide you with unparalleled levels of support, but also to make the administration of your contracts as hassle-free and transparent as possible.

You’ll find more information on the nitty gritty of how we operate and how you can benefit from using our services by following the links below. We are confident you’ll soon see what makes us a preferred choice for over 1,500 recruiters and clients across the UK

Highly respected within the industry, Crystal are proud to be a founder member of the Association of Employment Management Companies (AEMC), which was set up to provide a unified voice and introduce a comprehensive set of standards within the Umbrella Industry.

Crystal Umbrella

Umbrella Company


We at Crystal understand that, especially when you are just starting out, contracting can seem like a minefield, with the dark shadow of legislation hanging over everything you do. Even for a seasoned contractor, keeping up to date with all the paperwork is a time consuming, but essential chore that has to be completed at the end of each working day. That’s why we’re here to help ensure you make the right choices, by giving you the best advice possible based on your individual circumstances.

Currently, over 1.4 million people in the UK enjoy the flexibility, strategic career progression and financial rewards contracting and freelancing offer. Our extensive range of benefits are designed to allow you to concentrate on keeping your contract successful, yet still give you the freedom to enjoy your hard earned leisure time. We think you should be able to concentrate on enjoying your favourite sporting activity or hobby, or just simply relaxing with the family, rather than having to spend your evenings working through seemingly endless piles of paperwork, sorting out expenses and trying to keep up with your accounts. Looking on the brighter side, imagine sitting back and relaxing in front of the TV while our dedicated team of friendly and experienced contractor management personnel take care of everything for you.

The frontline team here at Crystal are supported by a range of specialist departments, each staffed by professionals with years of experience in all the relevant areas including; Tax, Payroll, Credit Control, Finance, Sales, Administration, Compliance, Management and HR, to name but a few. The sole aim of all these experts is to ensure you are paid accurately and on time, while keeping you within the strict guidelines set by HM Revenue & Customs.


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Umbrella Company

Hassle Free Contracting

A simple solution, seamlessly delivered for hassle free contracting; Crystal Umbrella Company was incorporated in 2008 to take over the pioneering and industry leading work initiated by our predecessor No Longer Limited. Two budding entrepreneurs, convinced that there must be an easier way for contractors to process their invoices, whilst avoiding the ever-changing legislative minefield presented by HMRC’s tax and expense guidelines.

Since those humble beginnings in a rather cramped garage, Crystal has gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years, securing it’s current stake as the UK’s No 1 Umbrella Company (as voted by contractors themselves).

Now employing over 45 staff at period head office building in the picturesque town of Hertford and working with some of the most respected agencies and clients in the UK. We have supplied compliant, prudent and profitable employment management services to some 15,000 contractor employees.

Our team of dedicated professionals are each committed to their role within the company. The frontline team at Crystal is supported by a range of specialist departments each manned by a dedicated staff, with years of experience in all relevant areas, including; Tax, Payroll, Credit Control, Finance, Sales, Administration, Compliance, Management and HR to name but a few


Hassle Free Contracting


Back in 2001, we decided that our business would always be fully compliant with all government regulations. To this day we maintain a 100% compliant approach and are proud to do so.

In April 2000, a new piece of landmark tax legislation, introduced by HM Revenue & Customs, came into force. IR35, as it came to be known, affected the entire contracting community and Umbrella Companies were divided about which solutions to offer.

The majority of contractor management companies and accountancy firms encouraged contractors and freelancers to set up Personal Service Companies (PSC) or to become part of grouped company structures know as composite companies. Both of these solutions used dividend payments to reduce (and sometimes remove completely), the Directors tax liabilities.

Throughout this period of uncertainty Crystal’s owners anticipated that at some point HM Revenue & Customs were sure to take the view that these schemes were simply ‘disguised employment’, which would allow them to challenge the validity of the contractor and question whether they were actually in business on their own account.

The government has always perceived all UK contractors as being potential 'tax avoiders', due to the tax saving benefits they enjoy by operating as a Limited Company/Personal Service Company and composite style arrangements, whilst their true status was clearly that of a “deemed employee”.

Even to this day, some 10 years after IR35 was formally introduced, some less scrupulous providers still promote high returns and obscure methods of trading, without appearing to take account of the individual contractor’s requirements first. Anyone using these schemes runs the daily risk of investigation and the threat of having to pay back up to six years underpaid tax.

When you join Crystal, things couldn’t be more different! We ensure that every new contractor becomes an employee of Crystal through a fully audited and legitimate Employment Contract. All Tax and NI contributions are then calculated, processed and paid directly to HM Revenue & Customs on your behalf.

This simple, but crucial difference is what sets us apart from the more, shall we say “Fly by Night” providers. It’s also what ensures that neither Crystal nor its employees ever contravene IR35 regulations in any way whatsoever.

Crystal Umbrella CompanyCompany: fighting for professional standards across the industry

Following hard on the heels of the MSC legislation and the introduction of HM Revenue & Customs third party transfer of debt liability, a new trade body has recently been launched.

Crystal Umbrella's CEO Colin Howell is a Director of The Association of Employment Management Companies (AEMC), an organisation that was formed to provide a unified voice and a comprehensive set of standards for the umbrella industry.

Crystal Umbrella Company processes all income received by its contractors using the long established HMRC compliant standard, pay as you earn (PAYE) as a basis, so our compliancy is 100% guaranteed.

Benefits the AEMC will bring contractors and agencies:

Easy source for identifying suitable providers using the employment model </>Removal of risk to agencies resulting from employment claims, since all workers are employed by the umbrellas </>Removal of payroll, working time and holiday pay issues from agencies </>Avoidance of any third party tax debt transfer under MSC legislation, since all members have been checked to ensure that they operate as employers, paying their employees only by way of HMRC approved employment income </>Suitable for addition to any recruiter's PSL </>A clean solution for freelance workers that might otherwise be affected by the MSC legislation<//><//><//><//><//>


The members of AEMC play a vital role in providing flexible employment solutions to the industry and are a major contributor to the UK's competitiveness. The AEMC is determined to represent only those organisations that operate a legally compliant regime.

In order to ascertain a member's legal and compliancy status, all applications for membership to the AEMC will be required to undergo a three part test comprising of a full legal audit, compliance audit and financial certification by chartered or certified accountants.


Claiming Expenses

As a contractor, trying to get your head around what you can and can’t legitimately claim as expenses can often be something of a minefield. For example, do you know whether or not you can claim for professional subscriptions and protective clothing

At Crystal, we know it’s perfectly OK to claim for professional subscriptions and protective clothing, as long as they are used 100% (wholly & exclusively), for work related purposes and nothing else. In addition, we have the expertise to help you identify all the other expenses you’re entitled to claim for whilst working on your contract.
  Unlike less reputable Umbrellas, we don’t believe in encouraging our contractor employees to exploit grey areas in the tax system. HMRC are constantly on the lookout for the exploitation of loopholes in tax legislation and will quickly step in to put a stop to any perceived ‘perks’…which can only mean one thing for you, more tax!
Here at Crystal Umbrella Company, we don’t do things half heartedly, which is why you won’t find an assumptive online salary calculator on our site. Your decision to join an Umbrella should be based solely on the relevant facts and figures, which is what our New Business Team are dedicated to providing you with. Remember, we are here to help and we can advise you on which business expenses you can legitmately claim
For a personal and accurate salary illustration speak to one of our News Business Team today, by calling 0800 848 8888.
Types of Expenses

There are two distinct types of business expenses that you can process using Crystal your account. The first and most common are Crystal Business Expenses, while the second are Rechargeable Expenses, which are charged directly to your End Client.
Crystal Business Expenses

These are the costs incurred in the course of running your day-to-day business and they are processed, along with your pay, without being subject to Tax and NIC. In accounting and HMRC jargon this type of expense is known as “Schedule E Expense”.
As your pay is made up of a combination of gross pay and the reimbursement of these allowable expenses, the extent of the costs you incur, in carrying out your contract, determines how much of your total pay is subject to tax and NIC and this directly affects the overall net return you are paid. What you must always remember is that these expenses must be incurred wholly and exclusively, that is to say 100% necessary, for you to fulfil your contract.
Rechargeable Expenses

These are the costs incurred in the course of running your day-to-day business that have been authorised by your end Client or Agency and will be fully reimbursed by them. Rechargeable Expenses can include a wide range of items and/or services and must be clearly identified and agreed with your end Client or Agency before the commencement of any contract. These expenses are reimbursed to you in full, do not attract Tax or NIC, and should not be confused with your Crystal

Business Expenses.
Rechargeable Expenses should be submitted together and for the same period as your timesheets, so that they can be billed to your Agency/Client on the same invoice and paid accordingly.
So, we hear you ask, what can I claim? Unfortunately, there are no set rules regarding the type or value of Rechargeable Expenses you can claim, because they form part of the agreement between you and your Agency/Client. You should always agree what, if anything, you can claim and how you go about making this claim before you start your contract; this should all be discussed in your contract negotiations.
Claiming Expenses

Salary Illustrations

Online salary calculators are not only assumptive, inaccurate and often downright misleading, they also come with very little guidance on what you can and can’t input into them. As a result, there is a tendency for many to overestimate what their return is likely to be.

Unless you are very careful, you could find yourself joining an Umbrella Company in the expectation of receiving a fantastic return, when in reality, based on HMRC guidelines, half the expenses you hoped to receive may actually be disallowed. This would clearly have a negative effect on the level of income you receive and unfortunately, by the time you discover the truth, the Umbrella is likely to have you locked in as a customer. You can imagine the hassle involved in moving at this point and the whole affair could turn into an absolute nightmare! In order to avoid such hair tearing incidents, be sure to take a close look at exactly what the online salary calculator is actually including before taking the plunge with your hard earned cash.

To avoid such problems, we have removed our online salary calculator and replaced it with a fantastic team of experienced tax specialists who are fully aware of every expense you can and can’t claim. Once again, we are leading the field in offering a personal, tailored service for all our contractor employees.

The answer to your problems couldn’t be simpler, rather than fiddling around with an assumptive and typically inaccurate online calculator, give Crystal a call and speak to a knowledgeable and friendly real live person who is based in the UK. Let us know the specifics of your contract and leave the rest to us. Sit back, have a well earned cup of tea and we will have a full written salary illustration, based on your unique contract particulars, emailed over to you within minutes.

Be sure to make Crystal your first port of call, we are sure it will be your last.


Salary Illustrations

The Cost

We know exactly what you are thinking, we can see it on your face, “a service like this must cost the earth”, but it actually doesn’t, honest! What’s more, the small contribution you make to take advantage of our service is completely tax deductible, which makes it even more attractive. How much better can it get? 

There are no additional charges for setting up or closing down your account and we have a strict no work, no fee policy, so for the weeks you are on holiday or between assignments you don’t pay a penny.
  So what are these fees, we hear you ask? We don’t charge a fee, as such, but retain a small administration contribution from the gross funds received from your agency/client, before calculating your taxable income. Which makes the cost even less to you, compared to charging a fee and deducting this from your net salary, after any payroll deductions.
  So there you have it, for roughly the price of a pint of beer, a couple of litres of petrol each day or a monthly trip to the hairdresser; Crystal offers you an affordable and efficient service, which in the long run, could actually save you money.
BACS and Same Day Payments

All processed payments are transferred to you by BACS, as standard and funds arrive in your account – just two working days after processing. However, we also understand that there are times when even this just isn’t quick enough, so whether it’s an emergency or you need extra funds for a holiday or special occasion, we can offer an optional same day payment. As you might expect, due to the additional costs we incur when completing same day payments we have to pass on a small administration contribution to you of £20 for each such transaction
The Cost
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