Contractor doctor: can I leave early even without a termination clause?

Dear Contractor Doctor,

I'm currently 3 months into a 12 month contract. The work is stale and the pay is terrible, made worse by being caught by IR35. My income is less than previous permanent employment, and I've had to take on extra work out of hours at home to make up the difference.

I would really like to leave and am applying for permanent jobs at the moment, but the problem is that the contract states that the contractor has no right to terminate.

How can I get out of this contract? Should I try and have a friendly chat with my boss, the agency, or just state I'm leaving?


[Name supplied]

Contractor Doctor says:

Sorry to hear things are not going well for you whilst contracting.

I'm surprised to hear that you are caught by IR35, since you do not have a termination clause. This is a strong pointer to NOT being a deemed employee. If you haven't done so already then it might be worth taking legal advice regarding your IR35 position. This won't of course make the work more interesting, but financially you'll be much better off.

There might be little point chatting to your agency. It is in their interests for you to stay so they can keep earning their commission.

If you simply jump ship and disappear then the firm could sue you, although unlikely. The agency (if you have one) might sure you though, which could get messy.

Having a friendly word with your boss is the sensible option. They are unlikely to want to enforce contractors to stay who are unhappy and unmotivated. They could then terminate you early, assuming they have the option. Then the agency will have no recourse to sue you.

You could also offer to help find someone to take over from you - this incidentally would also be a pointer to providing services, since it could be construed as providing a substitute. Again though, suggest getting legal advice on your IR35 status.

Good luck. Hope it goes well.

Contractor Doctor

Published: Monday, May 8, 2006

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