You can’t help but notice that the virtual assistant industry is changing – we are offering a diverse range of services and the term ‘virtual assistant’ is also being used in other contexts.

Recently, we have seen a few big companies choosing to provide their PA/EA/Admin teams with more flexibility by converting their jobs to those of ‘virtual assistant’. This is great but we need to be clear on how this role is different to that of a self-employed virtual assistant and in this blog I want to look at the key differences.

1. Working Hours

As an employed VA, you will generally find that there are ‘core’ hours you are expected to work – some of these may also require you to be ‘in the office’. You may also find that you are required to work evenings or weekends to suit the needs of the team you are supporting.

When you are self-employed you can set your own hours, work when and where suits you. Clients may request certain commitments, but you are in control and only need to say ‘yes’ if it feels right for you.

2. Holidays

Self-employed VAs can take as many holidays as they wish  – you can even work from the beach if you want to – but you won’t get paid if you aren’t working! As an employed VA, you will get holiday allowance like any other employee and will need to request the time off from your employer – however, as an employed VA, you will be entitled to holiday pay!

3. Types of Work

If you find that there are certain tasks you love, and others you loathe being a self-employed VA allows you to pick and choose the type of work you do so you can focus just on the things you love. As an employed VA, you will still be required to do the work your company asks you to do – unless you can find a colleague who will task switch with you! (We don’t advocate doing this though as you may get in trouble!)

4. Pay

This is a biggie! Employed VAs will receive a salary every month and your employer will deduct tax, NI and any pension contributions from it. You will also be entitled to benefits such as sick pay, holiday pay, maternity pay and anything that your employer offers as an additional benefit such as health and wellness services. As a self-employed VA, you will have to set your rates, invoice your clients, get paid and then work out how much you need to put aside for tax, NI, pension and any other business expenses you have. What is left over after that is yours to spend as you wish, but it may take time to replace a full-time salary and you may find that some months you have more than others.

5. Legalities

As an employee you don’t need to worry too much about the legalities of running a business – your employer will take care of this. You may need to check that any equipment you are using at home is insured but that is about all you need to do. As a self-employed VA you will need to take out insurance, register with the ICO as a data controller, ensure that you have contracts and terms for your clients and make sure that you comply with all the necessary laws that relate to self-employment.  There is a lot to cover and you will need to budget to pay for these things as well.

6. Office space and equipment

Whether you are self-employed or employed you will need a suitable place to work at home. As an employee you may have allowances for purchasing desks, chairs etc and may be provided with a laptop and phone. When you are self-employed you will again need to budget for the equipment and furniture you need – however this does mean that you can purchase as much stationary as you like – it’s a business expense after all!!

There are pros and cons to both employment and self-employment – it is ok to want the security of employment and the flexibility of working from home. As I said in this blog ‘virtual assistant’ is more a way of working than a role and there is room for different versions of this in the industry.