IR35: What, Why and When?

With the new IR35 changes looming, we look at what what the legislation involves, why it is being and implemented and how it will affect contractors in the maritime industry.

in April 2020, the new changes for ‘off-payroll working rules’ will come into place as the government look to ensure contractors that work like employees but operate via an intermediary, pay the correct national insurance, but how will this revised legislation affect you?

When do these rules come in?

The changes to the current Finance Act of 2000 come into place on the 6th April next year.

At Marine People we are happy to advise all of our contractors on any issues that you may have around the new rules, the key is to be proactive if you are considering taking contract positions post April 2020.

Why the change?

Currently, IR35 legislation states that Personal Service Companies (PSC) must ‘self-assess’ the contractors that they administer for, to ensure they are compliant with the law. HMRC however have concluded that there is widespread non compliance with the current rules and have introduced legislation that requires all medium and large businesses to assess their contractors. Small businesses that use contractors however will be exempt from the changes.

The phrases ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ IR35 may be ones you have heard quite a lot, these refer to whether a contracted role applies to the regulations on off payroll rules (inside) or whether the contractor will have to pay national insurance contributions (NIC) equivalent to that of a normal employee.

The legislation attempts to prevent individuals known as disguised employees from avoiding tax, working as self-employed contractors through a PSC even though they do the same job and have roughly the same conditions as an employee.

  Three key factors in determining IR35 compliance

 

  • Supervision, Direction, and Control: What degree of supervision, direction and control does your client have over what, how, when and where you complete your contract and day to day work?
  • Substitution: Are you required to carry out the work yourself, or you can you send someone in your place?
  • Mutuality of obligation: Is your client obliged to offer you work, and are you obliged to accept it?

How else can I prepare?

If you are really unsure going forward with a contract position prior to April 6th, you could seek a ‘Confirmation of Agreement’ between you and your client, this would ultimately protect you as the contractor from any irregularities as the new rules state that it is the clients responsibility to ensure their contractors are ‘inside’ IR35.

Another way to re-assure yourself that you are complying correctly with the new legislation is to get some second opinions from other contractors who may have experienced the same difficulties, Contractor.co.uk has a forum which may be useful for speaking to other contractors.

For a basic outline of whether you are currently IR35 compliant in a contractor role, you can complete the gov.uk test here, although this isn’t always definitive when it comes to investigating your tax status as a contractor.

We would always recommend speaking to an expert if you are unsure, many agencies that provide Personal Service Companies will usually be happy to assist you.


How to answer competency based interview questions

More and more engineering interviews are now being conducted as competency-based. Although competency-based interviews aren’t new (they have been around since the 1980s), they are fast becoming one of the most popular interview formats, meaning that you need to know what to expect, how to prepare, and how best to answer competency-based interview questions.

Competency-based interviews are unsurprisingly looking to ascertain your competence to do a job. Rather than just assessing your technical skills or qualifications, many of which can be understood from your CV, a competency-based interview will assess your skills and behaviours in previous work-based scenarios, on the basis that your previous behaviours will be indicative of your future ones. 

Your experience is often a given at this point, it has got you the interview, so being able to confidently pass a competency-based interview, and demonstrate the competencies better than the other candidates, is usually standing between you and your next role.

Competency-based interviews are generally similar in content but will be unique to a company’s internal competency framework. Common competencies include teamwork, communication, personal effectiveness, leadership, problem solving and organisation.

Within a competency-based interview, the interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate when and how you have demonstrated the required competency in the past. Questions tend to start with phrases like ‘tell me a time when’ or ‘give me an example of’. They will always allow you to describe a scenario. So, thinking about teamwork, a competency question might be:

"Tell me about a time when you have been part of a team?"

 

Using this example, I am sure that you would be able to answer without too much thought. You are very likely to have worked as part of a team and be able to describe it. However, the trick is to think about the absolute best example that you can, and one that you can expand. The reason for this is the interviewer will want to broaden the question until you demonstrate the competence fully, with subsequent ‘drill-down’ questions, in this scenario, these could be:

"What role did you play within the team?"
"What challenges did this present?"
"What would you do differently next time?"

As you are likely to have several examples for any one question, take the time to pause and think about the best scenario. We have seen on many occasions, interviewees barely take a breath and start with an example that they realise halfway through doesn’t really fit the question or one that is difficult to expand.

Before the interview have a look at the job description or advert, does it mention any competencies? Is it looking for a team player? someone with leadership skills, a great communicator? This can help you prepare some great scenarios based on what the company has already told you. A browse on the website and a read of the company’s values can also give you great insight into what they might ask you.

If you are not used to answering competency-based interview questions, the STAR technique is a great way to practice, as it structures your responses for you. STAR stands for:

  • Situation- Set the Scene
  • Task- Describe the Purpose
  • Action- Explain what you did
  • Result- Share the outcome

 

 

Practising with the STAR technique will ensure that your examples always demonstrate a complete competency. Have example scenarios prepared for all key competencies before your interview, pause and allow yourself time to think of the best example, and ensure that the examples that you use demonstrate a positive outcome for you, whether it be in a successful scenario, or a lesson learnt in a challenging scenario.

Although competency-based interview questions can be a daunting prospect to the unpractised, when prepared you will find that it sets you up for a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your complete suitability and competence for the role. 

Good luck!


ELECTION 2019: What the parties say about, STEM, Maritime and Defence

With the 2019 general election looming, Maritime UK, the umbrella body for multiple sectors of the marine industry, have released their manifesto for the sector's priorities for an incoming government.

The manifesto sets out a number of priorities that the organisation believes the government should focus on, including innovation, the environment, competitiveness and regional growth.

As an island nation maritime remains incredibly important to the UK’s economy, adding more money than rail and air combined, but what do the big three political parties plan to do if they win power?

As well as the maritime sector, there will be a focus on STEM industries as the incoming government aims to re-invigorate the economy whilst shipbuilding and defence remain important issues.

Conservatives

The current party of government has claimed they are ‘bringing shipbuilding home’ with the new Type 31 project awarded to Babcock for five new Royal Navy warships, as well as a number of vessels to be sold overseas.

The party’s manifesto – titled: Get Brexit Done - Unleash Britain’s Potential – however, only mentions the maritime sector once, with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in the form of 20 new Technology Institutes as part of a £2 billion investment into further education.

The manifesto also includes a commitment to establish a new £500 million Blue Planet Fund to protect oceans from plastic pollution, warming sea temperatures and overfishing, as well as extending the Blue Belt programme to preserve the maritime environment. The paragraph also explains the Conservatives aim to lead diplomatic efforts in protecting 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.

Boris Johnson plans to invest £2bn in STEM education (Picture: Wikimedia Commons)

 

Labour

With no explicit mention of the Maritime industry in their manifesto – titled: It’s Time For Real Change – The Labour Party have promised to publish a Defence Industrial Strategy White Paper, including a National Shipbuilding Strategy, that keeps all Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary shipbuilding contracts in the UK.

Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s previous opposition to the nuclear deterrent, the manifesto pledges a renewal of the Trident nuclear system as well as targeted bursaries for women, BAME people, care leavers, ex-armed forces personnel, and people with disabilities to encourage them to take up climate apprenticeships – something Labour calls ‘the STEM of the future.’

In what they call a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ Labour has promised to create at least one million jobs described as ‘unionised’ and ‘well-paid.’

The manifesto also aims to tackle the global plastics crisis with the creation of a new plastics remanufacturing industry for job creation and environmental protection.

Jeremy Corbyn aims to put his 'Green Industrial Revolution' at the centre of Labour's job creation. (Wikimedia Commons)

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats also do not focus specifically on maritime in their heavily anti-Brexit manifesto titled: Jo Swinson’s Plan For Britain’s Future.

The manifesto relies heavily on the £50 billion the Liberal Democrats say will be saved and reinvested if the UK revokes article 50 and remains in the EU. Part of their policy on STEM is to recruit graduates to be armed forces engineers, providing ‘golden handshakes’ of up to £10,000.

The party also promised to maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent, while pursuing multilateral nuclear disarmament and continuing with the Dreadnought programme, the submarine-based replacement for Vanguard, but procuring three boats and moving to a medium-readiness responsive posture and maintaining the deterrent through measures such as unpredictable and irregular patrolling patterns.

Environmentally the Lib Dem’s focus is to argue for new legally binding international targets to protect global biodiversity, and an ‘effective’ global oceans treaty to create a network of ocean sanctuaries.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. (Wikimedia Commons)

With the election just under a fortnight away, it remains to be seen which party will get the opportunity to put their plans into action.


A new look for Marine People!

At Marine People, we're always striving to show what separates us from the rest, that's why we've decided to redefine our look with a new website and a new brand identity! 

The new website focuses on keeping things simple and slick, without any gimmicks.

We've also introduced a new job listing page with all of our current available roles across the globe. However we've decided to keep our application via email, in order to keep things a little bit more personal for our candidates.

At the centre of the new look are our core values:

  • Clear communication to both clients and candidates
  • Being Innovative
  • Thinking Global
  • An Honest approach
  • Keeping things Personable

We believe that these core values represent the very best of Marine People and that our new look suits the needs of our dynamic candidates and industry leading clients.

Our new content will match up with the style of our website across the board on all of our social media outlets, so be sure to keep on an eye on our latest posts!


Why the defence industry might just be the perfect fit for you

With new Defence projects increasing rapidly, now could be the perfect time for you to forge a career in a dynamic and fast-moving industry. 

With the growth of opportunities in the sector comes the inevitable shortfall of talent required to fill the many new roles that are being created. This leads to the need for employers to diversify their workforces, finding versatile STEM workers with transferable skills from other industries. 

In Australia, the government has invested heavily in shipbuilding education their Naval Shipbuilding College initiative in Adelaide, part of $90 billion worth of funding for the continuous shipbuilding program (programme). 

Particularly in Australia, there has been an emphasis on transferable skills from the Automotive and Aerospace sectors to help plug the workforce gap. 

Tips for transferring to Defence 

Find out the applicable skills you already have 

Most of the skills that are desirable in the Defence and Security sectors are broadly similar across the board of STEM sectors but be sure to emphasise your problem solving, leadership and organisation skills – with relevant scenarios where you used them. 

Explain your reason for transferring 

Whether it’s simply to take advantage of the growing opportunities in the Defence sector, or you want to challenge yourself, let employers know.

Do your research

Transferable skills and motivation won’t account for much if you don’t know how your prospective company operates. 

Company culture can be one of the most important factors for industry leaders in the Defence sector. Reading up on a company’s initiatives and networking with important individuals on LinkedIn can give you an edge when it comes to the hiring process.

Marine People are affiliated with STEM Returners who provide opportunities for STEM workers to return/transfer to different sectors. You can find opportunities to transfer into Defence here.


Exciting times in the Naval Shipbuilding industry

I was recently discussing with a potential client about why they should use Marine People and myself.

Despite being UK based I have always worked with a wide range of clients around the world, with a particular focus on European, North American and Australian Naval projects. Of course, the UK and Australia couldn’t be much further apart in terms of geography, but I have never seen that as an issue.

For me, being able to speak to a recruiter who can make you aware of roles in-country and internationally is far more valuable and helps to foster long-term relationships. Of course, the argument can be that it makes no sense to use a UK firm to hire Canadians for a Canadian shipbuilding project (For argument's sake). But if that recruiter specialises in that area, understands your requirements, has contacts in that region, can deliver, then what does it matter? Especially with today’s technology and various other means of communicating now available.

In the office, we cater our hours accordingly to match our clients’ needs - to help reduce time zone differences. Anyone who knows me or has worked with me previously knows I will always make myself available whenever needed.

Despite being effective at opperating from the UK on overseas projects, an Australian office is something that we are seriously looking into.

Recently we have been in dialogue with an Australian organisation that wants assistance in identifying highly skilled shipbuilding candidates. We have been talking about the option of me spending some time in the business to get used to the culture of the organisation and to be involved with the hiring process. We will be looking to hire ten candidates early next year. It’s an exciting project to be involved with and we are looking at moving quickly on all the positions with the market being increasingly buoyant and competitive. For me, jumping on a plane to come back to Australia is something I am really looking forward to.  And I look forward to visiting more regularly over the coming years.

Whilst it is an important part of any business, for a recruiter your role is pretty simple. Find suitable candidates and look to manage them throughout the process - working closely with your clients along the way. For me, you build relationships by providing a good service to candidates and clients and meeting when possible.

I was recently at the Pacific 2019 Exposition in Sydney and enjoyed meeting clients old and new. I would actually argue that over the years my best business was done over a coffee or a beer rather than sitting in a boardroom for hours on end.

Shipbuilding has so many exciting projects and is a very niche skillset. Of course, there are transferrable skills, but like every project & industry, you do need subject matter experts at various levels. Which due to the level of projects internationally are becoming increasingly thin on the ground. Again, being well networked in that sector is key.

I have always been a big believer in that candidates & clients should aim to work with the best recruiters in their relevant area. Not just pick a recruitment company.  Of course, this is easier said than done and there are circumstances where an agency will advertise a candidate’s ideal job, they hit apply and everyone is happy. However, in most circumstances, it isn't the case. Especially with how competitive the market is now becoming. Ultimately this does take some time with identifying relevant recruiters for your area, but for me this is valuable. A lot of candidates & clients we work with tend to come from our network/ referrals. For me people buy people.

An added advantage of Marine People is our affiliations with STEM returners and IMarEST allowing us to offer much more than your standard agency.

It is a very exciting time in Shipbuilding, and I look forward to continuing to support our clients around the world with both local and international opportunities and hires.

James Martin - Managing Director of Marine People