Pharmaceutical and Health Care Contractors

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Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Hoffmann–La Roche, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Abbott Laboratories and Merck & Co collectively turnover £250 billion, employ nearly one million people including tens of thousands of contractors.

You might ask yourself, why the heck do they use so many contractors and not just have lots more employees?

Well, contractors provide a growing and valuable flexible workforce. They also don’t come with the financial burden permanent employees carry, so no pension, holiday day, sick pay, workers rights or expensive Christmas party invitations.

So who or why would anybody like to become a pharmaceutical contractor?


  • Much better daily rates
  • Higher take home pay after tax
  • Flexible work patterns
  • A choice of working environments
  • Develop a greater range of skills whilst being paid
  • Opportunity to work abroad
  • Less office politics
  • Be more judged on your abilities rather than the typical personality contests that exist in many companies.

There are massive advantages both financial and personal of going freelance – there are plenty of people who’ve already done it and who are reaping the rewards.

Once you’ve made your mind up to contract and maybe found a few positions that interest you, you’ll have to make the decision whether to work under an Umbrella company or to form your own limited company.

Working through an Umbrella company can be the simplest option, however going limited will mean you net far more of your earnings leaving you with more hard earned cash. See our comprehensive page on limited or umbrella for more details. Even if you just plan on contracting for three months you may still be far better off forming a company and working through your limited company than using an umbrella company. Any accountant will tell you working through your own limited company is the most tax efficient way possible. If you would like to understand how umbrella companies work visit our umbrella company knowledge centre.

Health Care Locums

Working as a health care locum gives you the freedom to choose where and with whom you want to work. This can be an extremely liberating experience considering the bureaucracy and politics that plague GP surgeries.

One of the biggest benefits of working as a locum has to be the increase in daily rate. Working on a short term contract basis means you can charge a premium for your services – you could be filling in for someone on leave, helping out during busy periods or offering specialist expertise.

There are a few things you should be considering as a health care locum:

  • Registering on the Performers List through your local Primary Care Organisation – you’ll need to do this if you want to freelance
  • Keep an eye on your finances – it’s a really good idea to get the advice of an accountant for your end of year tax returns. Filling these out can be time-consuming and complicated, plus, if you fill them out incorrectly you could be missing out on a substantial amount of your hard earned cash!
  • Finding work – send letters to local practices with your CV or join an agency.

If you haven’t formed a limited company yet, the government has now made this surprisingly simple – it only takes five minutes.

If you’re interested in the savings you could make to maximise your earnings, have a look at some of these pages

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