Becoming a locum means changing your employment status from employee to self-employed and changing your mindset when it comes to taking care of your finances. Here are six financial tips that will help you keep your finances on track.
You need to keep records for seven years under HMRC guidelines. This includes invoices and receipts, along with your A and B pension forms. Record your expenses, and use one credit card for business expenditures to make it easier to track. Remember to keep records of all income, not just that from your job as a locum.
2. Register with HMRC
You must register with HMRC as self-employed and for class 2 national insurance contributions. You’ll need to file your taxes each year with HMRC. If you’re not confident filing your returns, use an accountant; if you get your tax returns wrong or are late filing, you could be fined.
3. Pay into your pension
Even when you’re self-employed, you can make payments into the NHS pension scheme as a locum. You’ll need to fill in paperwork to do this because it won’t happen automatically, and you can’t pay in anything earned through an agency or privately.
4. Get your pension paperwork right
With the NHS pension, there are two forms: A and B. You complete A when you send an invoice to a practice. You complete B at the end of the month, summarising all your pensionable income. These must be submitted within ten weeks of completion.
5. Check locum rates
The BMA no longer publishes a locum rate guide, so you will need to check if the rates you are being offered are in line with those paid to other locums. Speak to others working locally or ask about it in online forums before you commit to doing the work. Agencies that recruit for GP locum jobs, such as http://www.thegplocumagency.co.uk/, should be able to help you confirm rates.
6. Claim expenses
As a locum, you can have expenses that are deducted form your annual tax return. These include mileage, broadband, mobile phone calls, professional subscriptions, training, conferences, and your home office.
Initially, all of this might seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be, especially if you follow our suggestions and keep a sharp eye on your income and expenditure.