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Life as a freelancer

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Life as a freelancer

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A few of our long term freelance workers

Freelance 101 - What you need to know
  • How likely is it that I will always be in work?

    Like everything in life there are highs and lows, but thankfully the shift in the construction market over the last two years has led to a greater number and variety of temporary assignments on offer. The average length of assignments are increasing from weeks to months across the majority of the sectors we work in, and due to a consistent number of vacancies being registered with us, our temporary workers have fewer gaps between one assignment finishing and their next one starting. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide any guarantees regarding continuity of work, however, to show you the level of improvement in the freelance construction market, we have seen an increasing number of individuals leaving their permanent positions to work on a freelance basis. You can read about Mark, a Site Engineer from Glasgow's journey to freelance employment below.

  • How busy is the freelance market at the moment?

    The freelance construction market has become increasingly busy and continues to grow. This is due to a number of different factors but largely in part to an increase in construction activity and our clients need for a flexible workforce. Contract Scotland has continued to experience growth with the number of temporary workers placed in jobs. There has been a 12% increase in temporary jobs registered this year so far in comparison to 2015. With some individuals leaving the construction industry after the recession hit adding to the current skills shortage already looming, we find that we are filling between 50-60% of the freelance jobs registered with us, meaning that there is still a great variety of jobs on offer.

     

  • How often will I be paid?

    Every Friday on a weekly basis, as long as your timesheet is sent in on time and is correctly authorised.  Contract Scotland operates a dedicated in-house payroll team within our finance department. Our team works tirelessly to ensure that your payment reaches you on time every time, and we are proud to have a 100% pay rate for temps who send their correctly authorised timesheet in by our deadline, which is 5 pm on a Monday. We pay our temporary workers regardless of us being paid by our clients, so you can rest assured that this is not an issue you would need to worry if you were ever to work through us.

    Please note that if your timesheet is going to be late for any reason, we ask that you call us to advise of this.

    It should also be pointed out that if you are working through your limited company, 5 pm on a Monday is also the deadline for invoice submissions.

     

  • What happens regarding holidays?

    All annual leave must first be agreed with the client you are working with. If working with us, you must also make your Consultant and the payroll team know.

    Depending on your payment method, you may or may not receive payment for annual leave from us. As a general rule, those working PAYE have access to payments depending on their accrual of holidays. Those working through their own Ltd Company are required to make their own provisions and umbrella company employees should contact their provider. 

    Regardless of your payment method, we ask that you advise us in advance of any annual leave you are planning on taking. This way we won't chase you for outstanding timesheets while you are sunning yourself abroad. 

  • How do I pay my tax?

    Good question! You might be thinking “what does this mean?” and who could blame you. Working freelance though an agency doesn’t just give you the opportunity to work on various projects, it also provides the opportunity to work through a different payment method. There are three main ways that a freelancer can elect to pay their tax on an assignment through us: via an umbrella company, through your limited company or pay as you earn (PAYE). We have the knowledge and information to provide you with details for each of the different methods, but ultimately it will be your decision as to which method is suitable for your individual circumstances. It is advisable that you seek independent financial advice as we are unable to provide this service for you.

  • What will my hourly rate be?

    Hourly rates have been improving gradually and are nearly back to pre-recession levels. Most sectors of the freelance market have experienced a 15% pay rise in hourly rates from Summer 2014. As our consultants are non-commission based, you can rest assured that we will always provide you with impartial consultative advice around market rates. Contact the freelance team to find out more about the average rates for your role.

  • How does that compare to a permanent salary?

    There is a lot to take into consideration when thinking about the move from permanent employment into freelance work. Little things that you might have taken for granted while working in a permanent job need to be assessed as to how it works in the freelance world. For example, it can be tough to compare temporary rates to permanent salaries, and it will often appear that temporary workers on an assignment earn more than their permanent equivalent. In some cases this is true and in others, it is not. Things to consider include:

    • Basic hourly rate
    • Contracted hours
    • Holiday pay
    • Sick pay
    • Pension
    • Company car/allowance
    • Bonus
    • Private health care

    As temporary workers are paid for every hour they work and holiday pay should be built into most freelance rates, it has to be noted that there may be periods of inactivity such as Christmas time which can affect your earning potential.

  • What do I do regarding a pension?

    Depending on your payment method, pensions are available to you while working freelance if you choose to work either PAYE or through an umbrella company. If you are working through your own limited company, you will need to make your own arrangements.

  • What is my notice period?

    Our standard notice period is day to day for the first week and then one week after that, however, it is not uncommon for you to negotiate your own notice period or for a client to ask for a specific one. As long as both you and the Client are happy, we’re happy

  • What happens if I work overtime?

    That depends on the assignment you are on, and it will vary from job to job. Temporary workers are generally supplied at a flat rate; however, there are instances when an uplift may be offered or negotiated with the client. This would especially apply to night shift contracts for example.

  • Do I get paid for working weekends?

    Yes, as a temporary worker, you are paid for every hour you work. In some instances, a higher pay rate can be negotiated from contract to contract to cover weekend working hours. It’s important to ask a recruitment agency these questions when presenting you with a vacancy that involves working weekends. We will always advise you of any enhancements applicable (or lack thereof) when speaking to you about the available opportunities we have.

  • Do I get travel expenses?

    It is nearly always a temporary workers responsibility to get to and from their place of work, but one of the great things about working freelance is the choice of location. Some temporary workers like to work on assignments closer to home while others enjoy the ability to work all over Scotland. It’s up to you! Travel expenses typically tend to come into effect when a temporary worker is required to go around sites/offices as part of their daily duties, required to travel long distances or to stay away from home. The rates will be agreed with the client and are usually reimbursed through the weekly timesheet.

    Any expenses can only be paid out if they are already included in your contract. If you are likely to incur expenses you need to discuss this with your Consultant and wait for an amended contact before submitting these. 

     PLEASE NOTE RECEIPTS MUST BE PROVIDED

  • Will I get paid for staying away from home?

    There has been a shift over the last 12 months where we have experienced temporary workers request that clients be more open to paying subsistence costs. Subsistence is paid either in the form of an allowance which is claimed weekly through your timesheet or occasionally accommodation paid directly by the client. There are still some instances where temporary workers will have to build subsistence costs into an all inclusive hourly rate, so again when speaking with a recruitment agency, never assume anything, always ask if the information is not freely provided or explained.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of working freelance?

    ADVANTAGES 

    Flexibility Choose:

    • Which companies you want to work with
    • Which projects you want to work on o When you want to work and for how long
    • Where you want to work – at home or away
    • Take holidays to suit you/your family
    • Help to achieve a better work/life balance
    • Rates/Income
    • The option to be paid on an hourly rate, meaning you are paid for every hour you work.
    • In some instances, you are paid extra for travel
    • Negotiate rates, expenses and notice periods
    • Professional Development
    • Gain a wider breadth of experience

    DISADVANTAGES

    • One week notice period as standard, although this can be negotiated.
    • No guarantee of continuity of work, although in the current climate this is less of a concern.
    • Ltd Company Contractors are required to make their own provision for holiday pay.
    • Ltd Company Contractors are required to provide for their own employment benefits such as sick pay and holiday pay.
    • Personal development – self-employed people have an obligation to make provision for their own training and site qualifications.
  • So what next...

    As you have probably guessed, things can vary greatly when working on a freelance basis and clearly it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but whether you’re ready to dive straight in or merely dip your toe to test the water, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.

    We can also arrange for you to speak to one of our long-term temporary workers to ask them about their real life experiences or for advice and tips.

    Contact: Julie Fleming, Section Manager - Temporary Recruitment 01786 446651 julie.fleming@contractscotland.co.uk

RESOURCE LIBRARY

"Having been through Contract Scotland as a Candidate as well as a hirer I would have no hesitation in recommending their services due to their consistent quality and preparation techniques."
Brian Galloway | Operations Manager | Former Job Seeker & Client
"After one phone call with the team at Contract Scotland, I knew it was the right place for me to come to and my opinion still hasn't​ changed."
John-Paul Din | Senior Quantity Surveyor | Former Job Seeker
"Every Candidate put forward by Contract Scotland has proven to be an asset to our business."
John McAuley | Commercial Manager | Employer
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