Subcontracting in landscaping industry

Through the January blues and now we start to prepare for the busy spring/summer months ahead. Perhaps now is the time to consider whether to grow your business through 2020. Paula Warman of Landscape Circle advises on how to expand your team using sub contractors.

Before you start your recruitment process to grow your business, bear in mind that more team members doesn’t necessarily mean you need to increase your number of employees. You may be better to consider using sub-contractors through your initial stages of growth. 

In the eyes of the law there are three main types of employment category:

  1. Employee – They work solely for your company and require an employment contract, that details everything from hours of work to sick pay. The control you have (as the employer) over an employee is high as you tell them when to work, how long to work, plus tools and vans are provided by the employer so everything is under your control.
  2. Sub-contractor – They work for themselves, by themselves, working the hours they want and provide their own tools and van. They need to be able to complete the work when its available for them. The relationship here is that you, the employer, have little control. They can work as and when they like. At an employment tribunal they will look at the element of control the company has over the sub-contractor as compared to an employee.
  3. Worker – Casual workers/zero hours contract. They are entitled to holiday pay. For example, these could be students working over holiday periods.

Please note that all your workforce needs agreements in place, either a sub-contractor agreement, casual worker agreement or a contract of employment.

If you start to use a subcontractor issues may arise when they start using your van, tools and uniform as it becomes the implied obligations. Also, when you have someone working in a sub-contractor capacity, but they have been working solely for you; but they pay their own tax and national insurance. This will not stand up in a tribunal as a clear sub-contractor definition. 

If you decide that sub-contractors are the best way to grow your landscaping business, then these five tips for using sub-contractors should keep you on the right track:

  1. Have a sub-contractor agreement in place – This should at least detail the working agreements between both parties. For example, does the subcontractor provide their own van and tools? Do you want them to wear uniform? How much and when will you pay them – per job or per month? Do they provide their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or do you, and if they do is it fit for purpose? What are their job responsibilities, what are your expectations? Do they provide hire equipment etc? 
    This should be a document that is discussed and agreed by both parties with both parties signing the document before any work commences.
  2. Invoicing – They should provide you with an invoice for any works undertaken. This will have details of work completed, site address, dates and their company details on. If there is then a dispute about work or conduct you have the details on file. 
  3. Get their full details including UTR number – Although this sounds basic sometimes it can be overlooked. Ensure they fill in a basic sub-contractor form to collect all their details including; company name, address, contact, main contact person, insurances held (policy numbers), copy of driving licence (and any other licences/qualifications held applicable to the works) and UTR (unique tax reference) number. You then need to call Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to verify how much tax they have deducted before pay, if any. 
  4. Check insurances – Does the contractor hold their own liability insurance and van insurance? If so then take copies of certificates and policy numbers. If not, then you need to check your company insurances to see what cover you have in place for sub-contractors both liability and vehicles. Don’t forget to take copies of their driving licence to keep on their file too, especially when they are using your vehicles.
  5. Get references – Remember to get references from past employers, customers and ask to see work they have completed recently. 

Use these tips and enjoy growing your team and your business in 2020!

Contact Paula at

Scroll to Top