As a freelancer, at some point you will most likely be confronted with the prospect of subcontracting, be it an offer to do it for someone else, or the need to find someone to subcontract for you. The question is, is it worth it? Whichever side of the fence you’re on, there are pros and cons.

First things first…

The first thing you need to make sure of when dealing with subcontracting is your employment status. You need to be sure that you, or the subcontractor you’re hiring, are actually a subcontractor and not an employee. Getting this wrong could land you in all sorts of mess later down the line with contract and workers rights.

If you’d like some information on how to figure out your working status, check out our “Am I an employee, a freelancer or a worker?” article. You can also check out our article on “Eight clauses your freelance contract shouldn’t be without” for support when you’re putting together your contract.

You can also find out more about IR35 at our IR35 hub. From here, you’ll be able to access all of our jargon-free Knowledge articles, tools, and learn more about our IR35 service.

When you need to find a subcontractor

You’ve been offered an assignment you just don’t want to pass up. It’s from a massive client who you can’t miss working for, and the money seems nearly too good to be true. Problem is that this assignment is huge and you’ve already got some work on your plate. Is it worth the risk of trying to tackle it all alone? It’s an idea, but chances are you won’t do as a good a job as you know you could. There’s no way you want to disappoint a client like this, but you know passing it up means you’ll be unlikely to be asked again. One option remains; bring in a subcontractor.

It’s a useful thing to be able to do as it means that you can take on assignments or projects that you just can’t do on your own and still complete them to a standard you’re happy with. It opens the market up to you a bit too, as it means you can search out bigger contracts than previously. It removes some restrictions for yourself and it will help you continue to build your portfolio as you go along. It does bring some extra stress though.

Project management now becomes a much bigger part of the day-job (do not forget to consider this when negotiating your fee). You have now, essentially, become a client to your subcontractor and you need to make sure they do a good job as it is your reputation at stake. This can be difficult if you’re not used to managing people. Make sure you do a bit of research on your new subcontractor before you take them on. Look out for tell-tale signs as well; if they take ages to reply to an email, imagine how long it will take them to finish their project.

When you are the subcontractor

You’ve built up some experience and a decent portfolio, but you’ve hit something of a wall. The jobs aren’t getting much bigger, and neither are your clients. You want some work that will boost your reputation and hopefully take you up a level. A great way to do this is by subcontracting for someone else’s bigger project. This gives you the chance to work on a much larger job than you could pull in alone.

Unfortunately, there is a fairly high chance that you will not get any credit for the work. This means it will be no help to your portfolio and to some, that maybe a deal-breaker. Make sure you discuss this with your prospective boss before you agree to start the job. The pay might also be lower than what you’re used to too, so that is also something to consider. There are a few sacrifices to make by being a subcontractor, but they can often be outweighed by the positives of a new, interesting and prestigious project.

Speak to an accounting expert

If you're unsure what level of support you need, our friendly team are on hand to help you pick the right package for you.
team photo off all crunch team
Share this post
Lucinda Watkinson
Head of Accounting
Updated on
December 29, 2020

Knowledge Hubs

Speak to the experts

Our UK based team of experts are ready to help you find the best accounting package for you and your business.

icon of a green tick
Certified Accountants
icon of a green tick
HMRC Approved
Senior Sales Advisor
Book a meeting
Crunch Pro Tip
Speak to an accounting expert

If you're unsure what level of support you need, our friendly team are on hand to help you pick the right package for you.

Crunch Pro Tip
Using cloud-based accountancy software to manage your finances gives any small business a big advantage!

At Crunch we provide affordable cutting-edge, easy-to-use software with real human support from expert chartered accountants. That’s probably why 81% of our clients would recommend Crunch.

Crunch Pro Tip
Did you know - you have access to a Chartered Certified accountant for free on our paid subscriptions?

Book a call with our one accountants and get your questions answered. Just £24.50 +VAT for Crunch Free users.

Crunch Pro Tip
Did you know - Your Self Assessment has to be filed by the 31st of January deadline?

Crunch’s Self Assessment service provides an expert accountant to complete, check, and file your Self Assessment for you for just £140 +VAT.

Crunch Pro Tip
Did you know - We have a free plan that is great for sole traders and limited companies?

Why not see for yourself? It’s simple and easy to use and 100% free.