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Home Contractor's Insurance Subcontractors Insurance What Are Bona-Fide Subcontractors?

What Are Bona-Fide Subcontractors?

A bona-fide sub-contractor is a professional hired by a contractor to perform work on a construction site or project. They are typically specialists in a specific trade, such as plumbing, electrical work, or carpentry. Bona-fide sub-contractors operate independently of the contractor, providing their own equipment, materials, and personnel.

The key difference between a bona-fide sub-contractor and other types of subcontractors is their employment status. A bona-fide subcontractor is considered self-employed, meaning they are responsible for paying their own taxes and National Insurance contributions. As such, bona-fide subcontractors are not entitled to benefits and protections that employees enjoy, such as sick pay, holiday pay, and minimum wage requirements.

Key Takeaways:

  • A bona-fide subcontractor is a self-employed professional hired by a contractor to perform specialised work on a construction project.
  • Unlike employees, bona-fide subcontractors are responsible for paying their own taxes and National Insurance contributions. They also require their own public liability insurance.
  • Understanding the concept of bona-fide subcontractors is essential to comply with legal requirements and avoid potential disputes or liabilities.

Bona-Fide Subcontractor Vs Non Bona-Fide Subcontractor

As we’ve established, bona-fide sub-contractors play a crucial role in construction projects. But what exactly sets them apart from non-bona-fide subcontractors?

Firstly, bona-fide subcontractors are considered genuine businesses in their own right, with their own established practices, equipment, and workforce. In contrast, a non-bona-fide subcontractor may simply be an individual brought in to assist with the project, without any real business structure or history.

Another key difference is that bona-fide subcontractors are required by law to comply with certain regulations, including tax and employment laws. Non-bona-fide contractors are not held to these same standards and may operate outside the law in some cases.

It’s important to note that some projects may require the use of both bona-fide and non-bona-fide subcontractors. However, it’s essential to ensure that all subcontractors involved in the project are classified correctly and are fulfilling their legal obligations.

To be classified as bona-fide, contractors must meet specific legal requirements, which we will cover in detail in the following section. Understanding these requirements and the differences between bona-fide and non-bona-fide contractors is essential for ensuring a successful construction project.

What are the Benefits of Hiring Bona-Fide Subcontractors?

Here at Tradesman Saver, we believe that engaging bona fide subcontractors for construction projects carries numerous advantages. In this section, we’ll highlight the benefits of working with these professionals and provide some best practices for ensuring a successful relationship.

Efficiency and Expertise

Bona-fide subcontractors specialise in specific trades, which means they possess the necessary skills to complete their assigned tasks efficiently and to a high standard. As a result, hiring a bona fide subcontractor can help ensure that your construction project runs smoothly and on schedule. This level of expertise can also save you time and money in the long run as they require minimal training and supervision.

Reduced Legal Risks

When you hire a bona-fide subcontractor, you can have peace of mind knowing that they meet all the legal requirements in accordance with the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). This reduces the risk of facing penalties and legal issues for engaging non-compliant subcontractors, ultimately saving you from unnecessary financial burdens.

Improved Safety Standards

Bona-fide subcontractors typically adhere to best practices when it comes to health and safety standards. This helps to ensure that your project is completed safely, which is essential for keeping both your workforce and members of the public safe from harm.

Flexibility and Scalability

Using bona-fide subcontractors gives you a level of flexibility and scalability that allows you to adjust your workforce to match the demands of your project. You can easily bring in additional subcontractors for larger projects or reduce your workforce for smaller ones, meaning you only pay for the work that’s required.

Best Practices for Working with Bona-Fide Subcontractors

When working with bona-fide subcontractors, it’s important to create clear contractual agreements that outline the work to be done, payment terms, and other essential details. It’s also essential to ensure that subcontractors have valid insurance coverage, which can protect both you and them in case of any accidents or unforeseen circumstances. Finally, ensuring that subcontractors are certified and registered with relevant industry bodies provides an additional layer of credibility and protection for your business.

Legal Requirements for Bona-Fide Subcontractors

As mentioned earlier, contracting with bona-fide subcontractors is crucial in ensuring that your construction project runs smoothly and legally compliant. But what are the specific legal requirements that bona-fide subcontractors must meet?

Requirement Details
Business Registration Bona-fide subcontractors must be registered as a limited company or sole trader with HM Revenue and Customs.
Insurance They must have public liability insurance coverage of at least £1 million.
National Insurance Contributions Bona-fide subcontractors must pay their National Insurance contributions and have an up-to-date tax reference number.
VAT Registration They must have a VAT registration number, if required by law.


It is essential to ensure that the subcontractor you are working with meets these legal requirements, as non-compliance can result in penalties, fines, or even prosecution.

Moreover, having a clearly-defined agreement between you and the subcontractor can prevent disputes and misunderstandings in the future. Examples of bona-fide sub-contractor agreements include the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) agreement, which outlines the terms of payments, obligations, and responsibilities of both parties.

How to Verify Bona-Fide Subcontractors

Verifying whether a subcontractor is bona-fide is crucial to ensure compliance with UK legal requirements and avoid potential risks such as fines and legal action. At Tradesman Saver, we urge you to take the necessary steps to verify that your subcontractor is bona-fide before engaging them for your construction project.

One of the most straightforward ways of verifying a subcontractor’s bona-fide status is to request proof of registration with an appropriate governing body or professional organisation. You can also ask for documents such as their VAT registration certificate, insurance policy, and contracts with other clients.

However, it’s essential to be aware that not all subcontractors who claim to be bona-fide may actually meet the legal requirements. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek professional advice from a legal or insurance expert who can guide you through the process of verifying the subcontractor’s compliance.

Tradesman Saver is committed to helping tradespeople and small businesses in the UK navigate the complexities of subcontracting and insurance. We offer comprehensive Public Liability Insurance, Employer’s Liability, and other policies to safeguard your business against potential risks and lawsuits. Contact us today to learn more about our coverage options and how we can help your business thrive.

What’s the Difference Between Bona Fide and Labour Only Subcontractors?

Bona fide subcontractors are self-employed workers who provide a service to the contracting company. The contractor has no control over how they perform their work, and the subcontractor is responsible for providing all of the tools and materials necessary to complete the job. Labour only subcontractors are employees of the contracting company and do not own or supply any tools or materials. They are under the direction and control of the contractor while on the job.

Both types of subcontractors have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to understand the differences between them before deciding which one to use for your project.

For Specialist Public Liability Insurance for a Bona Fide Subcontractor, Make Sure It’s Tradesman Saver

With Tradesman Saver, you can protect your business from potential risks and ensure that you have the necessary coverage for liability claims, accidental damage, and employer’s liability. Starting from just £59 per year, Tradesman Saver’s Public Liability Insurance, or specialist contractors insurance, can give you peace of mind and protect your business from unforeseen circumstances. Contact us today to learn more about our insurance options and get a quote!

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