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The benefits of hiring an expert contractor

Contractors, a group of workers totally unlike permanent employees, bring a wide range of benefits to the client organisations that hire them. The key fact for clients to remember is that contractors are just that – contractors involved in a business-to-business transaction, and not employees.

When clients hire a contractor, they are engaging the services of a supplier and not starting a contract of employment with an employee. Employees have rights under employment law, contractors don’t.

Plus a contractor is being hired to perform a specific task or work on a discrete project. They turn up ready-made, don’t need to be eased into a position gently and have no learning curve or training requirements. You should expect them to be primed and ready to go on your project from their first morning.

Meet short-term skill or capacity demands

Contractors provide clients with flexible access to skills that an organisations does not have, or does not have enough of, and may not need over the long term. When very specific and specialist skills are required, contractors are ideal to plug the gap.

In addition, where clients need to rapidly increase capacity, perhaps because they have been awarded new business, they can rapidly recruit contractors to complement existing permanent employees.

The contractors don’t have to be trained, can get to work straight away, immediately adding to a client organisation’s capacity and ability to deliver to their customers. And when additional employees come on stream later, the contractor can leave with the client facing absolutely no liabilities, such as redundancy.

Contractors are not employed

Contractors are business services suppliers, providing predominantly knowledge-based services to clients on a business-to business basis. They are not permanent employees, or even on a fixed-term employment contract.

Contractors are business services suppliers, providing predominantly knowledge-based services to clients on a business-to business basis

This means that all the baggage that comes with employment law and employees simply does not come with contractors. If they get sick, they don’t get paid. If they take holiday, they don’t get paid. If they make a mistake, they have to fix it in their own time at their own cost. And should they totally mess up, they are also likely to have professional indemnity insurance, which employees don’t have.

Contractors can be hired and fired very quickly, as long as contractual termination notice periods are adhered to. An underperforming contractor is in breach of contract and can be terminated instantly – they are a supplier hired to meet a specification and, by underperforming, they have breached the contract with the client. That’s a very different situation to that faced by clients trying to deal with an under-performing employee, where there are many stages and procedures to go through before they can be dismissed.

Contractors don’t get company cars, private health, pension plans or childcare. They don’t even get to use the gym or staff canteen. They don’t receive any of these employee benefits because they are not employees!

Easy to manage with no ‘staff politics’

Many contractors cite the main reason they started their contracting career was to get away from office politics and all the hassle and stress that employees have with managers, staff and career paths.

Contractors don’t care about office politics or office gossip. They don’t threaten their client’s career prospects, because they are not employees jostling for promotion. Typically, they put their heads down and work steadily and effectively on their project, because that is what they are being paid to do. For most contractors, it is also what they love to do.

Contractors are not the solution to every client’s problems, but they clearly can bring a huge number of benefits to the client organisations they are contracted by. Most notably, they can be picked up and put down as their skills are needed.

Published: 16 December 2009

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