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The Disadvantages of Contract Work

by Catherine Lovering

Contract employment appeals to many because of its flexibility. Contractors can accept or refuse work, and they experience a variety of working environments as they move from project to project. Contract work has several downsides, however, that may discourage potential contractors from giving up the benefits of being a regular employee.

Staying Marketable

At the end of each job, a contractor has to market himself to new employers to secure a new project. This can be time-consuming and stressful until the contractor has developed a network of referrals who can send new work his way. Marketability is also tied to skill set; regardless of industry, contractors must consistently train themselves and stay abreast of changing trends.

Going Where the Work Is

Depending on the industry, a contractor may have to travel great distances to where a lucrative project exists. For those outside of major urban centers, this can prove expensive in terms of travel costs and personal inconvenience. While this travel can provide an opportunity to expand networks, it can also pose bureaucratic hassles in terms of getting to the site and being integrated into the new work environment.

No Guarantee of Hours or Benefits

Contractors are not employees, so they can be let go at any time. During the duration of a project, they won't receive valuable benefits such as health, medical, dental and pension contributions. Although contractors normally receive a higher hourly rate than employees, they have to file their own taxes and don't receive compensation for public holidays. When the economy slows, jobs will be less plentiful and there will be gaps when no income comes in.

No Information Sharing

When a contractor is in an established place of business, she has less access to vital company information that can potentially help her do her job. Regular employees, knowing the contractor is there for a limited period, will not be as forthcoming about procedural or technical information. A contractor will not integrate socially into the workplace because her time is short and focused on the particular project she is assigned to.

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