Payment options guide

To make your life a little easier, we’ve updated our payment options guide to include everything you will ever need to know about getting paid through Pulse and the different options available to you.

Watch our payment options video, or read our guide below to understand which payment method is right for you.

What do agency workers get paid?

The rates offered to you in the UK can vary from placement to placement. If you are working for Pulse within the NHS, your initial pay is based on the Agenda for Change pay scales and relevant banding. We review each assignment on a case-by-case basis, and negotiate with your best interest at heart while working in line with our clients budgets.

Other factors that affect your pay include:

  • The day – bank holidays and weekends may be paid at a higher rate
  • The clients location
  • Client type – e.g NHS, private or education
  • Contract type – framework or non-framework
  • Payment type – PAYE, umbrella or limited company

What is a framework?

A framework is an agreement between a contracting authority (for example, an NHS Trust or local authority) and one or more suppliers. The purpose of the agreement is to establish the terms governing contracts to be awarded during a given period, in particular with regard to price and quality, and where appropriate, the quantity. To be a framework supplier, Pulse underwent a tender process for each framework, providing information about our organisation, including details on our recruitment policies and procedures.

As an NHS framework agency, we are fully vetted and able to offer you access to a larger volume and variety of jobs before other agencies.

Payment methods available with Pulse


PAYE stands for pay as you earn and involves Pulse taking care of your tax, National Insurance and any other relevant deductions, before paying your salary into your personal account. This means that you don’t have to file your own tax returns.

PAYE is based on how much you earn over a year – if you earn over £12,570 in a financial year (6th April – 5th April), you will have to pay income tax. National Insurance (NI) contributions and student loan repayments are also deducted through PAYE (if applicable). The tax you pay on your income helps fund public services, including the NHS, and is a mandatory legal responsibility.

As a PAYE worker with Pulse you will be eligible for the following:

  • Statutory Sick pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay (qualifying criteria will apply)
  • Auto-enrolment pension at 5%, which Pulse also contributes into
  • Payslips for each payment, with all deductions clearly detailed
  • P60 issued annually (where applicable)
  • P45 issued at end of your working time with Pulse
  • No charge for processing your weekly timesheet and payment


An umbrella company acts as your employer and is responsible for paying you, processing your timesheets and taking care of tax and National Insurance deductions. They charge for this service and this could range from £15-£30 per week/timesheet depending on the company. As an umbrella worker, you will have:

  • A choice of approved umbrella companies to choose from
  • Confidence that the company you are using has passed stringent audit criteria (so you will not be at risk of being entered into a tax avoidance scheme)
  • Access to a pension scheme

If you have more than one source of income you will be able to run this through your umbrella company as one employer. 

For more information on umbrella companies, click here.

Limited company

Another option is to set yourself up as a limited company, also known as a personal services company (PSC). The way in which Pulse would pay you into a limited company is dependant on the IR35 determination of the role. For more information of IR35 determination, click here

For roles inside of IR35, payment will be made as a net amount into the limited company bank account after Pulse have made the relevant tax, National Insurance and other relevant deductions. In this scenario, as Pulse are completing your deductions, you would receive:

  • Payslips for each payment, with all deductions clearly detailed
  • P60 issued annually (where applicable)
  • P45 issued at end of your working time with Pulse

For roles outside of IR35, payments will be made as a gross amount into the limited company bank account. You will be responsible for the deduction of tax and National Insurance by filing a tax return yourself, or employing the services of an accountant to do this on your behalf.

Sole trader

On some occasion, you may be able to work as a sole trader, but this is subject to client agreement and adhering to HMRC regulations.

Direct engagement

Some of our clients choose to engage agency workers via a direct engagement model. This is a third-party payment system that sits between the trust and Pulse, which is used as a VAT cost saving model. This means you would be employed and paid via the client that you are working for, as opposed to Pulse. Due to this and in most cases, PAYE is the only payment method available to you. Your consultant will advise you when discussing a role if direct engagement is applicable.

Pulse will still act as the agency to facilitate the booking and support you, so it will just be the entity taking the responsibility for your employment/payments that will differ to the usual agency experience. Pulse works closely with all direct engagement providers and clients that utilise them, to support all parties in the process. All third-party providers also have dedicated help desks to provide additional support when needed.

As part of your contract with the client via a direct engagement model, you will be offered pension options with private providers as a minimum, however, in some cases you will be offered access to an NHS Pension scheme.

Which payment option is best?

Which payment option is best for an agency worker is an individual decision.

At Pulse, we would always advise speaking to a qualified financial advisor to ensure that you’re making the choices that are right for you, whilst remaining within the law.