Contract herdcare is a slightly different way of working compared to conventional direct employment, but the advantages can be considerable. Here, LKL regional contracts manager, James Picot, explains the benefits and answers some of the commonly asked questions posed by subcontractors considering this rewarding way of working.
LKL is not a new company. It was founded in 1951 and has, since then, been solely involved in contract herdcare on a nationwide basis. There are now over 300 self-employed herdspersons subcontracted to the company on a nationwide basis, working according to a formula that has been tried and tested for over 50 years.
Yes, and this also means that you are effectively your own boss! Taking the plunge and going self-employed is often seen as an obstacle, but it has a number of benefits that should not be overlooked. In general terms, you'll have higher levels of responsibility than you would in conventional direct employment. You also have more of an active role in the day-to-day herd management decisions and the freedom to organise your duties in the way you want to. You'll still have to fulfil the farm policy, but you'll get a lot more satisfaction if more of the decisions are yours.
It is up to each individual. Some prefer to look after their own tax affairs while others choose to use the services of an accountant. You'll have to complete an annual self assessment tax return, but so do many conventionally employed people nowadays. LKL simplifies the overall process for you with self-billing invoices. LKL can also recommend specialist accountants for you.
Most herdspeople say they earn more money on a contract than if they were in direct employment. This is achievable because there are more work-related expenses (such as all your work clothing) against which tax can be offset. A typical example for a person earning a gross salary of £22,000 per annum would be as follows:
With conventional employment, the monthly take-home pay after all deductions will be approximately £1,384. A self-employed person with the same gross income and a non-working partner will receive a monthly amount without any deductions made. After setting aside an amount for tax and national insurance, they will have the equivalent of £1,525 per month.
There are many important elements in the LKL package that support contract herdspeople:
- The host dairy unit will have been visited and appraised by the LKL manager prior to being considered for an LKL subcontractor.
- LKL has nationwide contracts, making it easier to progress your career within the dairy industry.
- You'll have a dedicated LKL manager with whom you can discuss all matters relating to your position.
- LKL negotiates contracts annually, meaning someone does salary negotiations for you on a regular basis.
- You'll get paid promptly as LKL suffers any credit risks resulting from late farmer payments.
- You'll receive a monthly newsletter, along with independent herd costings, to keep you abreast of developments in the industry.
- LKL offers ongoing training and technical support.
- You have access to competitive liability insurance and access to sickness and accident cover.
- We're more than happy for you to talk to any of our existing subcontractors to hear their experiences. Similarly, if you need to discuss the financial implications of going self-employed, we provide references in your area to contact.
Successfully managing a 100-cow herd is one thing, but doing the same on a 300-cow unit, with a team of three people is another. As part of LKL's package for its staff, and to help develop their careers within the industry, the company runs a 'Leadership Skills and Man Management' course.
The three-day course, which is spread over three months, is offered free of charge to any LKL herdsmen who feels they would gain from the experience. There are specific modules within it to cover some of the subject areas associated with running a larger herd and multi-man team.
For example, the leadership and motivation day looks at leadership styles, decision-making, delegating and what motivates and de-motivates people. The second day looks in depth at effective communication covering subjects such as assertiveness, your questioning and listening skills and how to engender respect in a team.
The third and final day focuses on team building and aims to equip delegates to define the kind of team they want and then to work towards achieving that by understanding the dynamics of a team, how successful teams work and how to develop trust.
LKL herdspeople who have attended the course have found it very useful for furthering their career within the industry. This is just one of the courses on offer to LKL herdspeople. Interested to find out more? Contact our regional staff, or the office in Salisbury.
- A tried and tested approach - LKL was established in 1951
- We offer access to the best dairy herd management positions
- Improved levels of pay through the LKL incentive scheme
- Better job security through LKL's wide range of contracts
- Greater working flexibility and job satisfaction
- Third party support in all labour/management issues