Contract? What contract?

Contract? What contract?

A recurrent question is the guy asking how to step out of a contract in the middle because he’s had a better offer. Simple enough question, you might think, but there are several side issues.

Firstly, why is the guy looking for new work in the middle of a contract anyway? Even if he was approached by an agent, its not that hard to say “Sorry, I’m currently in contract”, as opposed to doing the whole CV submission and interview thing.

Secondly, what does his contract say. If, as is often the case these days, it is silent on the subject of notice periods from the contractor, clearly there isn’t an exit until you get to the end of the agreed term. Presumably you knew that when you signed, so why think that it sort of doesn’t matter any more and you’ve mysteriously acquired the right to disregard the contractual terms.

Thirdly there is professionalism; or, perhaps, lack of it. If you’re taken on to do a piece of work, on what basis do you decide you aren’t obliged, professionally if not legally, to complete it? What are you going to do to mitigate the damage your leaving will cause? Track down a substitute perhaps, like it says in the contract? Nope, often as not it’s a case of I want out and I’ll walk anyway.

At the end of the day it’s down to people still thinking they’re some kind of employee and not a freelance professional supplying a service to a client. I realise that’s what the agencies want you to be, since that’s how most of them sell their services, but you’re not, you’re a supplier.

The PCG are launching a campaign today to persuade senior management that they need the freelance workforce for a raft of sound economic and business reasons, and that the freelance workforce is a professional, dedicated group of people who just happen to work for themselves. Which makes the actions of a few unthinking people even more irritating.

On a lighter note, also worthy of note was an article in the Telegraph earlier this week. It seems someone already loves us: the Tories are looking to small businesses as a constituency worth wooing, with strong hints of some changes to taxation law to lessen the damage it currently does to their businesses. Can we dare to hope that will include the abolition of IR35?

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Image: “Push to exit” by jm3

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