Tips for working with EU companies

The last couple of years have been tricky for UK contractors wanting to work in the EU, with all kinds of extra challenges thrown up by Brexit and COVID-19. But things are starting to recalibrate now, and in a recent Cool Company survey, 65% of UK contractors who responded said that they’ve started to look for more work from EU clients.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the specific issues you need to consider when working with EU companies, as well as highlighting some of the pros and cons.

How can UK contractors navigate working with EU companies?

Before starting work with a client from an EU country, examine the contract carefully and check for any differences from what you’re used to when working in the UK, particularly in terms of the following:

  • Notice periods
  • Performance standards
  • Holiday entitlement (and bank holidays)
  • Pensions
  • Governing law
  • Treatment of employees

The specifics of these will vary across different EU countries, and it’s important to understand the regulations, benefits and working culture of the country you’re contracting in so that you have a realistic idea of what you’re signing up to. The more informed you are, the better prepared you’ll be.

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The pros of working with EU clients

It opens up more opportunities

The most obvious benefit to working with EU clients is that it opens up a much wider range of opportunities than if you just stick to the UK. A greater choice of companies to work with gives you the potential to concentrate on certain skills, explore aspects of your field that really interest you, and develop your career in a specific direction.

It gives you valuable experience

Working for companies in other countries will take you out of your comfort zone and broaden your experience, giving you the edge over others.

It can lead to better benefits

Many EU companies are very generous in the ways that they reward employees and contractors, in terms incentives such as discounts.

It can be more flexible

Now that remote working has become so well established, it’s easier than ever to take on contracting work in different countries. Everything is more flexible and negotiable these days, so you might find that working with an EU client means less travel than it did before, and more freedom to work the hours that suit you.

It can help you avoid issues with IR35 legislation

As long as your EU client has absolutely no links to the UK, then it will be your responsibility to determine your IR35 status, and not theirs. It’s worth noting that several EU countries have their own type of similar legislation, so if you’re based there then you’ll need to look into that, but it wouldn’t apply to remote workers.

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The cons of working with EU clients

The main disadvantage of working with EU clients is that you need to adjust to certain differences in the way that things are done. This includes things like:

  • Potential Withholding Tax
  • Legislation
  • Language
  • Time zones
  • Culture
  • Expectations
  • Deadlines

You might find admin processes more complicated and expectations higher than you’re used to. Things like language barriers and different work cultures might be harder to deal with if you’re working as part of a remote team. Other countries’ legislation and regulations can be tricky to pinpoint and understand.

How Cool Company can help

Contracting through an umbrella company can really help with addressing some of these cons, particularly in relation to taxation and other financial admin. We’re here to smooth the process so that you can get out there and make the most of the opportunities available to you.