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The Increased Importance of Part-Time Employees and Contractors

December 6, 2021
Anisha Vaswani

Many businesses have started incorporating a wide range of people with different employment statuses, especially during a period of growth and transformation. Different employees such as part-time or temporary workers, as well as contractors are becoming an integral part of the business structure. Before examining why this is the case, and how to enter the labour market as such, it is important to distinguish between different employment statuses.

The main distinction between an employee and a contractor is that a contractor comes into work on a more temporary basis. For example, this could be as an IT consultant working on a specific project or a freelance copywriter working on a marketing campaign. While working a contractor means that you are protected by less employment laws than a regular full-time employee, your employer must still comply with the legal duties that do protect you. For example, employers are not entitled to pay contractors for annual leave, however, they must still fulfil their duties under health and safety, as well as data protection laws.

Moreover, it is important to highlight the many advantages that come with being a contractor. As a contractor, you are more in control of how many hours and what days you work for companies. This means that you have greater flexibility to provide work to different businesses, at the same time, within the same industry. You also have greater control of your role and the type of companies you want to work with. Indeed, contractors do not have permanent obligations to companies they work for. This means that they can accept or refuse offers as they please, and once they do accept an offer to work for a company, they only need to work for them for as long as the project takes.

In order to become a contractor, it is important to firstly research the regulations and responsibilities you must abide by in order to ensure you are fully aware of what you are getting yourself into. You must also consider your tax position and understand IR35, the set of tax rules which apply to contractors. The next step would be to register your limited company and decide how you want to run your business, followed by then landing your first contract work.

It is important to note that this is different to being an employee on a zero hour contract, also an increasingly prevalent trend in the labour market. This refers to a casual agreement between employers and the employee. This agreement is based on the idea that the employer does not guarantee the person a set number of hours. They simply offer them work when it is available, and the employee can accept or reject this work as they please.  

These types of contracts are not only beneficial for the employee in that they offer greater flexibility and freedom, but they are also advantageous to the employer. As the employer of a contractor or a zero hour worker, you not only have more security when it comes to urgent and/or temporary work demands, but you will also find that there is less HR admin to abide by, as well as reduced risk/fear of inappropriate hires.

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