November can be a dark and miserable month, but it’s also the month of Diwali, the festival of light celebrated by more than a billion Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the globe. Alongside the beautiful lanterns, the teachings of Diwali hold all sorts of wisdom for contractors and freelancers.
Another year, another Budget. In recent times, contractors and the self-employed have become used to watching the Chancellor’s pronouncements from behind the sofa. It would be an understatement to say that the last few announcements weren’t particularly kind to the contracting community, so it was understandable if many approached this October’s Budget with trepidation.
Amid much rumour and speculation, there was uncertainty as to how the self-employed would fare this time around. Although many in the community were hoping that proposed private sector IR35 reform would be abandoned, in truth it was never likely to be an option.
Despite a plethora of evidence to the contrary, in recent months the government has gone to some lengths to praise the success of IR35 reform in the public sector. The real question was a simpler one: would similar reforms apply to the private sector from April 2019 or April 2020?
It’s the spookiest time of the year: ghosts and ghouls around every corner; jack o’ lanterns glowing; annoying children ringing the doorbell every 10 minutes asking for sweets. But it’s not zombies and witches that we’re afraid of. Here are the top 5 things that give contractors nightmares this Halloween…
1. Non-paying clients
You sent the invoice straightaway. You clearly outlined your payment period. You sent a polite chaser email. And yet, somehow, still, no money has appeared in your account. The dwindling balance sends a shiver down your spine! Yes, the non-paying client is the most terrifying spectre a contractor can encounter. They look just like normal clients…until the full moon comes out and the balance is due, then they show their true colours.
At Kingsbridge, we work predominantly with contractors and freelancers, who still make up a large number of self-employed people in the UK. However, we’re also aware that the face of self-employment is ever-changing, particularly in recent years, and we’re seeing different roles emerging all the time.
So, what could the future of self-employment look like?
Contractors and freelancers
Going forward, contractors and freelancers will still be a huge part of the self-employed workplace, especially as employers begin to embrace more flexible working environments. Hiring contractors and freelancers on a project-by-project basis may well be more appealing to some employers, rather than having a full-time permanent employee-base who don’t necessarily have a lot to do between projects. Freelance workers can also be used to fill in gaps in a workforce with a high proportion of part-time workers.
Your CV (or, indeed, LinkedIn profile) is the first thing prospective clients will see when you apply to work with them and, of course, you want to set yourself apart from the other contractors in your field.
Let us tell you now, the way to do this is not by filling your CV with meaningless, clichéd buzzwords that are more likely to send prospective clients looking in the opposite direction. The Plain English Campaign largely deals with getting jargon out of public comms, but that ethos can be applied to your CV too. So, instead of rubbish, fill your CV with simple facts that tell clients all they need to know about you.
What are the words and phrases to avoid?
Brexit. A contentious issue if ever there was one. It’s something that everyone has an opinion about – you’d be hard pressed to find anyone sitting on the fence when it comes to our relationship with the EU.
We’ve written on these pages before about the possible ramifications that Brexit could have on the contracting community, and it hasn’t been altogether positive. It’s important to note, however, that no one truly knows what the future holds. It’s very much a leap into the unknown – we can predict and prevaricate all we like, but the situation will only become clearer once we take that final step.
We’ve written many times on these pages in the past about the importance of having insurance in place. Whether you’re a contractor, a recruiter placing a contractor in a role, or the end client, it’s important that you do everything you can to minimise risk.
99% of the time everything goes smoothly. Deadlines are met, measurements are accurate, and projects are completed. But there are times when things don’t go quite as planned. The financial and reputational costs that come with a claim are likely to be large, and having the right cover in place will help you to offset any costs you will incur.
So why are we bringing up this particular topic again? Two stories in the news recently got us thinking.
Email has become one of the most common methods of communication in the modern workplace. It’s easy, quick and enables conversations between colleagues without the need to be in the same physical space, as well as allowing for the sharing of documents and images. As contractors and freelancers are more likely to work remotely than other workers, they rely on email even more than most.
Perhaps, then, contractors and freelancers are strong candidates to be the most annoyed by the nine most irritating work email phrases as uncovered by Adobe last month. Of course, they may be more likely to commit these offences too.
The August bank holiday is rapidly approaching and, for many of us, it represents our last hurrah with our families and friends before kids return to school and life returns to (more-or-less) normal after six weeks of fun in the sun (well, this year at least).
But, for a contractor, how do you balance things if you have to work? At the end of the day, when you’re self-employed, it’s not always possible to have bank holidays off. You might have a deadline looming, or it might simply be a case of not being able to afford the day off. Whatever the reason, bank holidays are often things that happen to other people.
But the August bank holiday is the last one for a while. After this we don’t get any until Christmas – so how do you cope if you simply have to work?
While improving, the extent of the UK gender pay gap – the difference in average earnings between men and women – remains significant. An analysis by the BBC in April 2018 of the pay data submitted by 10,000 large firms revealed that nearly 80% of companies paid men more than women. Further the BBC showed that men make up the majority of the higher-paid jobs and are paid bigger bonuses – in some industries up to 35% more.
A lot of the focus of the gender pay gap debate is on full time permanent staff, as they are who companies employing more than 250 people are required to report on by law. But that does not include freelance and contractor workers, an increasingly important part of today’s labour force, growing by 25% since 2009 and contributing an estimated £109bn a year to the UK economy, according to contractor trade body IPSE. The question is whether the contracting and freelancing industries suffer a similar pay gap, particularly when you consider that the Pensions Policy Institute found women made up 97% of the net increase in self-employed workers last year?