Tax support for Locum Optometrists

11 - 10 - 2021

Optometry in the UK.

With 74% of people in the UK currently wearing corrective eyewear or have undergone laser eye surgery to improve their vision, demonstrates the British publics’ attitude to eye health. The UK needs a constant stream of optometry professionals to meet the increasing demands of a longer living & ageing population.

Those choosing this profession, commit to 4 years of study (3 years degree and 1 year’s pre-registration period) to achieve a Master of Optometry degree. Those completing the course successfully, can then register as an Optometrist with the GOC (General Optical Council) the professions statutory body.

The pre-registration period, usually 12-15 months, is a salaried position in at an existing optometry provider. At the end of the period, the prospective Optometrist must pass the GOC’s final assessment to receive their final qualification.


Options for work as an Optometrist.

Once successfully registered, it’s time to work.  What will it be, salaried or Locum?

Salaried, you accept a role and are contracted to provide your skills for a specific employer and are paid usually monthly by agreement, with Tax and NI deducted at source. As an employee you have full employee rights and benefits, but you have little flexibility.


Locum Optometry.

The most flexible method of employment which allows the optometrist to choose where, how often and how many hours per day a shift is acceptable. Rates of pay are usually higher for locum shifts as the locum is providing a solution for an employer covering holidays, sicknesses etc. As a locum you agree the rate of pay acceptable to you, which is usually more than an employed position as you are not entitled to any employment benefits, such as pension contributions, holiday pay etc.

An additional benefit to Locum work is the ability to advance your skill set, visiting many different locations with broader demographics, which will open a locum to different positions, situations, and patients. All of which enhances a Locum’s knowledge base and CV.

Locum work is also a flexible model for retired opticians and optometrists to earn extra income while keeping up to date with ongoing developments in the industry.


Rates of Pay.

As detailed on (correct as at 2021), the following rates of pay are typical of the following roles. These do vary dependant on location, demand, and urgency.

·         Locum dispensing optician   £104 per day

·         Locum Optometrist                £295 per day


Finding Work as a Locum

To find sufficient work allowing you to maximise your earning potential, today it’s all about the apps and online websites.

Boots, one of the UK’s largest eye care providers take on Locums to cover shortfalls in staffing, all the opportunities are shown on their Boots Job website. Locums register their information on the jobsite and Boots have your information to contact you when opportunities are available or already have your information if you reply to an offer. The same is said for Asda, Tesco, Vision Express and Specsavers etc. Being registered on every site gives more opportunities.


Independent Opticians also use online apps, provided by recruitment platforms such as Locate a Locum. These advertise opportunities placed by the Opticians, and a Locum accepts/negotiates for these opportunities directly with the fee payer. It is beneficial to again register on a few sites to broaden the opportunities.


Appointing an accountant:

Working as a Locum means that you are the boss, you are responsible, and part of that responsibility is ensuring you are paying yourself correctly and calculating what tax and National Insurance will be required at the appropriate time. After hours of work, is that something a Locum wants to do?

Just one of the main reasons Locum’s appoint an accountant to provide services that ensures, when they aren’t working, they are enjoying their leisure time, as the accountant is doing all the additional work.

As a Locum is self-employed, while one misses out on some benefits an employee has, a Locum has other advantages. They incur expenses to carry out their role, and these expenses can be deducted from their earned income before their tax and National Insurance liabilities are calculated.

These can include:

·         Mileage claim

·         Subsistence claim

·         Professional Fees

·         Training courses

·         Accommodation

·         Phone

·         Computer/software etc.


The general rule is an expense is allowable if it is required to generate the income for the Locum.


 What we, the accountant can do for you:


·         Create & send invoices if required, collate remittance advices

·         Calculate your business expenses and advise on the tax treatment of them

·         Calculate your tax liabilities and advise throughout the year

·         Advise and register for VAT (if required) complete and file your returns

·         Complete your Annual Self-Assessment Tax return

·         Provide free business insurance*

·         Provide online access to our portal to upload your information

·         Provide advice and support throughout the year


And all done for a fixed monthly fee


In other words, choosing the right accountant can make things a lot more stress-free for both you and your business, and you’ll know that your business is being taken care of by experts, leaving you free to concentrate on your own area of expertise.


Foremans are a multi-disciplinary professional firm employing dedicated experts to support the self-employed, sole trader, partnerships, and small limited businesses. Supporting clients with the full range of tax planning, bookkeeping, accountancy, and business development advice, Foremans have been working with clients’ for over 14 years and are specialists within the small business and contractor field.


*Terms and conditions apply






Foremans LLP Umberlla
Foremans LLP