What day rate should I charge?

Looking for a freelance or contractor day rate calculator? Wondering how much you should charge as a day rate? You've come to the right place.

One of the biggest challenges when going self-employed is knowing what day rate to charge for your services. And while it’s ultimately the market that will decide your worth, having a good grasp on your figures will give you an idea of your minimum acceptable rate. If your clients aren’t willing to pay this, that’s another matter (though hopefully you won't end up working for free).

Full-time benefits you need to take into account as a freelancer or contractor

As a full-time employee, you’re bestowed with numerous benefits that self-employed folk never get to see. Feeling too ill to work when in a full-time role? No problem, just call the boss and you’ll likely be paid while you get better.

Fancy a day off? Great! Just fill in the leave request form and you’ll be free to relax while your salary continues to flow. Having a slow day at work? Relax - you’ll be busy again soon enough.

Understand what your freelance day rate needs to cover

For the self-employed, the scenarios above present a problem. If you’re ill, you either keep working or don’t get paid (worse still, you may lose clients if you miss a deadline).

Want time off? Go for it - just don’t expect to be paid. Not much on? Sure, you can sit back and relax, but no one’s going to pay you for it.

Set a contractor day rate that works for you

For these reasons and more, it’s vital to have a good grip on exactly what you need to earn to make ends meet. A juicy day rate might sound appealing, but when you factor in the downsides of being self-employed, it might look slightly less attractive.

What if I'm employed?

If you're employed (either full-time or part-time) and receive your salary via PAYE, check out our new take-home pay calculator. Enter your salary and any pension contributions, and you'll find out exactly what money you'll take home each month.

Please note: This calculator is still in beta. While every effort has been made to verify the figures it produces, it should only be treated as a guide to what you can expect to take home. We recommend you contact an accountant for accurate tax information. This calculator is based on 2021/22 tax allowances, assumes sole trader (self-employed) status and no VAT registration. If you don’t enter any holiday or sick days, working 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year will be assumed. 

Using the day rate calculator

Day rate: This is the amount you’ll be charging for your services per day.

Expenses (per year): You won’t pay tax on legitimate business expenses. Put the total figure here, including things like accountancy fees, business equipment, etc.

Sick day allowance (per year): Most full-time employers will pay you for at least 5 days sick leave per year. Hopefully you won’t get ill too often, but it makes sense to allocate a few days each year.

Holiday allowance (per year): You’ll need time off when you’re self-employed. Remember to include bank holidays in this if you want to relax along with the full-time workers when they come around.

Percentage of non-billable time: It’s unlikely you’ll spend every hour of your working days on billable projects. Estimate how much of your time will be spent looking for work, doing admin tasks, walking the dog, etc.

Gross annual income: Based on what you put into the fields above, this will be your total gross income (i.e. before tax) per year.

Annual take home pay: Again, based on your answers, this shows how much you can expect to take home after tax.

Monthly take home pay: And this is the amount each month. How does it compare to your old full-time payslip? Don’t forget to take into account other savings such as lower commuting costs, etc.