Know your rights as an independent contractor

When working as an independent contractor you may find yourself facing difficulties, legal issues and questions of liability. For these reasons you should know some basic laws regarding independent contractors.

One of the most important things you need to understand is whether or not you officially qualify as an independent contractor according to the HMRC. Independent contracts are seen to be different to employees and can often play less tax – resulting in a higher net pay. The main variance is that an employee works under a contract of service whereas an independent contractor works under a contract for services.

Fewer rights, but better pay!

As a result of these differences, independent contractors do not have the same rights as an employee. But as an independent contractor, you don’t need the protection of employee rights – contractors generally earn more than employees and can enjoy flexible time frames. A good contractor with some decent marketing can actually obtain better job security by contracting their services to several different satisfied companies.

Independent contractors are employed for their services with specific details of time span, project scope and services required, all set out in an official contract at the beginning of the project. The point of the contract is to set out in legal terms what work is to be done and how much will be paid for the services.

Go out of your way

However, no matter how lengthy and complete a contract may seem, there may be things that you could be asked to do outside of the contract. Although there is no legal contract to carry out these requests it is good practice to try meet them, within reason. Don’t fold to every request, use your common sense – don’t unnecessarily upset the client by not doing something but also don’t do everything they ask without question.

Stop problems before they start

Prevention is the best cure – if you notice something in your contract that you don’t like before you start work then talk to the agency and try negotiate your terms. Starting work on a contract you want to change weakens your negotiating position and can result in you not being paid for any work you’ve done if the contract is terminated.

A terminated contract is something that no independent contractor wants to do, and unfortunately, a contractor doesn’t enjoy the same employee rights against discrimination or harassment. The best way of ameliorating a situation comes by discussing issues with the client and trying to come to an agreement.

If you do feel aggrieved by a decision, independent contractors can take cases to an employment tribunal, but this could jeopardise your status as a business-to-business service provider – bringing legal repercussions and having costly tax implications.  Beyond the tax issues, tribunals can also seriously harm your reputation and almost certainly will terminate your current and future contracts with the client.

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How a contracting agency can help grow your career

The 21st century is full of seemingly meaningful but usually utterly empty business buzzwords that are uttered by ambitious management types, all in a vain attempt to appear different and important in the workplace – or simply to get oneself off the hook by providing some ambiguous babble to a specific query.

And many people would be forgiven for thinking that the word ‘contracting agency’ is another of those pretty pointless terms. Why can’t you just call it a recruitment consultant? Or a middle man? What exactly is it that a contracting agency does that makes it so special?

Connecting People

We won’t need to tell you that it’s not money that makes the world go round, it’s people. The steady flow of new people to different businesses and cultures across the world keeps our lives interesting and our companies profitable and interesting. One old adage that is applicable is that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Crucially a contracting agency will know more people than you have ever forgotten. When a specific brand is looking for a specific person to help them reach the next level, a contracting agency will be able to help – because of its huge range of contacts, there’s always someone that they know.

Job Offers

For contractors, an agency is a great job board for surveying what’s out there in the big world of work. Offering a greater individuality and accessibility than regular internet sites or offline agencies, contractors will show you a huge range of the jobs on offer. Or perhaps you’re not currently looking for a job right now? By looking at what specific pay packets are available for different jobs – giving you a good idea on what you could charge, and letting you know of the general current job market.

Tax Help

Ah, tax. When you’re a contractor and not tied in to a specific permanent contract, there are innumerable benefits: the freedom, the better pay and, well, the freedom. And the better pay. But one thing that is less enjoyable about being a self-employed contractor is that you have to deal with your own tax affairs. But thankfully, a good contracting agency will also help you in that regard: ensuring that you stay organised with your taxes – avoiding any punishments for not doing it properly or even saving you money through investment schemes you may not have considered.

Personal Development Advice

As well as help with tax, a contracting agency will also lend a hand with the other little things in life that challenge a self-employed person – and help you to become the best possible professional you can be. Whether helping to develop your skillset, widening your contact base, encouraging your communication skills, or even offering a social opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals, a representation agency is a great place to increase your professional standing.

Contractor jobs on the rise in online retail

The UK economy is struggling, this is no big secret, but it seems that the world of online retail is continuing to grow, and what’s more, it’s growing at a faster rate than anyone expected. This is great news for anyone in the IT business, but it’s especially promising for those individuals or companies who offer online contractor services to those needing more hands on deck than ever before.

How can the growth of the online retail industry benefit you as a contractor?

Well think about what a retail store needs in order to add their presence to the already vast internet. Firstly they need an expert web designer who can build their website from scratch or from a basic template the retail company already has. Then they need a number of additional contractors to write the content for the website, market the website, optimise it for the search engines, keep it compliant with the ever-changing rules and regulations of internet marketing, build links with other websites etc. – the list’s pretty endless.

These contractor jobs are never filled permanently because they don’t need to be and, by contracting the work out to a freelance professional, the owner of the website saves money. Hence, thousands of contractor jobs in the online retail sector are added to IT recruitment websites and job boards every week. At the present time the opportunities are huge and according to IT recruitment forecasts, the online retail sector will continue to grow over the next few years.

So how quickly is the online retail industry growing?

The easiest way to gauge how quickly the industry is growing is to look at how the demand for contractor services has grown over the last year. Most IT recruiters report a large increase in the number of job postings being placed with them that require online retail expertise, and in particular web design skills and in-depth knowledge of search engine optimisation.

One IT recruiter recently reported that the number of online retail job postings added to their site in 2012 was nearly 90% higher than 2011. If this trend continues into 2013, which it is expected to do, then there’s the possibility of being more contractor jobs available than contractors to fill them. Or in other words, contractors with the required skills will be able to pick and choose the jobs they want rather than having to vie for attention.

An industry with on-going potential

It’s very unlikely that the online retail industry is going to stop growing any time soon. Even those retailers who are thriving on the high street are continuing to see the potential of the internet and accordingly are looking for reliable, affordable contractor services to get them where they want to be i.e. at the top of the search engine results pages. Thousands of individuals are also turning to small internet businesses to make ends meet so online retail truly is an industry with never ending potential for high earnings.

All you need to make your mark is knowledge of web design or another in-demand skill and a quality IT recruiter to point you in the direction of the top paying contractor jobs.