The UK minimum wage for individuals aged 25 and over is currently £8.21 per hour, with the living wage (calculated from evidence about living standards in London and the UK) currently set at £10.55ph in London and £9.00ph everywhere else in the UK. As a result, some business owners are shocked when they hear the hourly rate charged by freelance business professionals, like Virtual Assistants.
According to the 2018 ‘Time to EleVAte’ Survey results of UK and European Virtual Assistants and Freelancers, the most common hourly rate charged by survey participants is £26-30ph (which has increased from an average figure of £21-25 in 2017). This may seem significantly higher than the UK minimum wage and even the living wage, but the reality of the situation is that if you work with a freelance professional rather than an employed member of staff, there are a huge number of things that you don’t have to pay out for:
- Lunch Breaks, Holiday and Sickness Pay
- Hardware and some software costs (though you may need to pay for some software if a freelancer requires it specifically for your business – i.e. if you need to pay for an extra user to access your CRM)
- Public Liability Insurance (if you don’t already have this but would need it to protect someone working from your office)
- Private Pension Scheme
- Training (unless you request that the freelancer specifically undergoes this training for your business, in which case you may have to pay for some/all of the training costs)
- Office space, desk and equipment
You also only have to pay for the work that your freelancer carries out on your behalf rather than paying an employee for their full time or part time hours.
For many businesses, taking on employees is a natural stage of business development and growth, but if your business has very changeable cash flow or if you aren’t sure exactly what role you would take on an employee for, utilising the skills and experience of one or more freelance professionals can help a business to grow whilst reducing the risk of over-extending budgets to pay for staff (and all their associated costs).
Business Support Professionals, like Virtual Assistants, often have extensive experience in helping with one or more aspects of your day to day business, from finance to marketing, and from administrative support to proofreading. Work carried out in their unique ‘zone of genius’ is likely to be completed in an extremely efficient and timely manner and to a high standard. If you have multiple jobs that need to be completed, these could easily be outsourced to a team of professionals and are still likely to be completed faster and to a higher standard than if you took on a single employee to complete them all, as it’s unlikely that you’ll find an employed team member with extensive knowledge and experience of such a diverse range of tasks.
When it comes to determining a fair and competitive hourly rate, Virtual Assistants need to charge a fair amount for their time and expertise – just don’t imagine that they are rolling in cash because of what you perceive to be a high hourly rate! Remember that the amount they charge needs to cover Tax and National Insurance contributions, hardware and software costs, insurance, accreditations and membership to industry organisations, etc. Indeed, last year we created an infographic based on an hourly rate of £25 that determined that after deductions, take home was actually closer to £18ph.
It’s important to consider that freelancers don’t receive holiday pay or statutory sick pay (though may have entitlement to certain DWP benefits if they have been unable to work for an extended period of time). Almost all employees are entitled to the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday a year, so self-employed freelancers need to ensure that they have a little set aside for any time off that they need to take.
So although £25-30 per hour may seem like a significant expenditure for your business, it’s important to remember that you pay for what you receive – a professional and high quality service delivered in a timely manner. It might be possible to pay less, but a.) would you feel happy asking someone to charge less than they need to meet their living expenses and b.) could you guarantee that work completed by a cheaper resource will be of the same standard? Yes, it’s not a cheap and cheerful option but your customers (and business!) will thank you for the positive investment made as you continue to grow your business into a more productive and efficient entity.
If you’d like to learn more about the UK and European Virtual Assistant Industry, why not download our 2018 ‘Time to EleVAte’ survey results for free today? You can download them here: https://bit.ly/2QfkwfD