The Challenge of Contracting

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 719897

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item The Challenge of Contracting

  • derekmallard

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 116

    As you say, "white-collar workers find themselves working for high-profile companies as contractors, not full employees."

    That goes to the heart of one of my pet peeves for remote contract work. Many managers seem incapable of supervising a worker unless they have butts in chairs. They will out-source to a middle man company who takes a cut, in some cases as high or higher than 25%, rather than deal with individuals. An employee or contractor who is allowed to work remotely can reduce costs too, especially if they are allowed to work from a location with a much lower cost of living. Companies that state 'our people are our greatest resource' are stretching the truth.

  • ryk 98103

    SSChasing Mays

    Points: 660

    After decades of regular, direct employment in a variety of IT roles, I took a year-long contract job at a very large financial services company nearly a year ago. It was a rude awakening for me. I'm generally treated well, but for contractors there's a constant vibe of being the unwanted step-child. You're not invited to certain meetings, parties, and other celebrations. Not allowed to attend any of the on-site training classes. This particular company seats their contractors together, so regular employees don't generally interact with them much, and miss out on much of the day-to-day camaraderie and pleasantries.

    I suppose a lot of that is to be expected with the arrangement, but more egregious is what I consider an over-reliance on contractors filling what, in my opinion, should be regular employee positions. Quite a few contractors are working a second year-long contract in regular positions, not ones having a need to end at a particular time. I was offered a second year-long contract but I turned it down, partly because I feel this practice is unfair. It's kind of the opposite of that Groucho Marx quote -- I don't want to belong to a club that doesn't want me as a member.

  • Ralph Hightower


    Points: 2804

    I was a contract worker and I didn't like it. No healthcare insurance, no vacation time, no sick leave. But contract work was the only available work that I found in 1994. When I told my wife that I found a job in Iowa, she said "Bye, bye" and stayed behind in South Carolina; which was find since we owned a home and had no intention of moving. I was subcontracted to MCI in Cedar Rapids, IA. I have allergies and I had to find an allergist and had my allergy serum shipped to him. The work was interesting enhancing and fixing problems that ran the operators console.

    One of the problems that I solved was removing an unwanted "beep" when customers sent delayed messages. The operator console software was DOS based and the crossbar switch software was Unix based. Another contractor, George, helped me test it. In the "bull pen" where they had 16 contractors in a former conference room, there was a contractor that played childish telephone pranks by calling others in the room and hanging up when they answered the call. I told George that we needed to do another test. George asked "Why?" and I answered "Sashi." We went back to the test crossbar switch, I called the number and used Sashi's number as the destination with a 10 minute delay. George has this deep voice and he used his "god of doom" voice and said "Sashi! We know who's doing this! Stop!" We went back to the bull pen and waited. Sashi's phone rang and he turned pale on hearing the message. That was a fun practical joke.

    I did have fun while I was in Iowa. I brought my water-skis with me and I managed to ski the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids and the Mississippi between the Quad Cities. I also got to see Fourth of July fireworks displays in two different states. The fireworks on Lake Murray in SC has their fireworks on a Saturday. I landed at the Cedar Rapids airport with enough time to make it to Cedar Rapids fireworks.

    August 16, the local news featured a story of a tornado that hit Lexington, SC. Because of the damage that it caused, it delayed my getting my absentee ballot for the primary runoff.

  • frederico_fonseca


    Points: 14686

    I think this may depend on the company and even on the country.

    I've been contracting for over 30 years - first 10 in Portugal - not quite that good (bad pay) but environment acceptable

    Last 20 years in Ireland - very good environment (5 companies in total - long contracts (2 to 8 years +) and contrators are not segregated from other employees and, normally, are not "badly" seen by permanent people (always exceptions mainly due to "contractors" from big consultancy companies that are less than good)

    Pay in Ireland is quite good for IT contractors - and although we don't have the standard perks employees have all the companies I worked with would allow contrators to share their canteen/restaurant without differenciation.

    As for vacation time - all that we need as contractors are not limited to the 20-25 days that normal employees have. I personally take 8-9 weeks holidays per year (yes they are unpaid but rest of year more than covers anything)

    Note that while in some places the use of contractors is really to avoid having to get them as perms, in Ireland its not quite the same. Been offered perm position many times and always refused as it would diminish my freedom and my income (significantly)

    and one of the good benefits of being a contractor - no need to get involved in HR meetings neither some of the company politics

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