New disturbing trend for IT contractors – Contractors Discuss

Trend for IT contractors - IT Contract Terminated early
IT Contract Terminated early by client

A reader sent us New Disturbing Trend For IT Contractors.

Trend for IT Contractors

I was out for a few drinks with a few contracting buddies in London the other night. Most agreed that things at long last were picking up with only one of five out of work at the moment.

At one time, all of us were ‘resting‘. None of us were on great rates or anything but at least things had improved.

One item raised its head, which was nearly unheard of, even five years ago. This was that companies are more and more eager to invoke the ‘Four Weeks Notice‘ clause. That is they tell you thanks for your work but your contract finishes in four weeks.

Given Notice on Contract

This had happened to one of the five. His manager called him in, told him that work was drying up on the project and gave him notice. The contractor wondered if there had been any problem and was told that, no, they were very happy with his work and would give him a very good reference.

However, he found out a few days later, that a permie on another project was sitting around not doing much, and had been drafted in instead of our friend.

Another guy in the group told of a friend who was taken on with two other contractors, all on three month contracts. After six or seven weeks, they had practically finished the work. They found out then that they too were being given the four week bullet. It transpired that this saved the company all of 2 weeks pay.

Pre-Downturn Contracts

I only remember three cases of this happening before the last downturn.

One was where the manager didn‘t quite have the guts to fire a contractor. This was maybe a fair outcome as the bloke in question struggled a bit with the work. However, he didn‘t misbehave in any way.

Another colleague was working for British Airway at the time of September 11th. He was understandably grateful for even the four weeks as this was certainly a case of ‘Force Majeure‘.

Another friend, employed by a bank, was informed that his project was cancelled, apologetically given the notice, but was told that as compensation, he didn‘t have to come in during the period to get his money.

That‘s more like it!

Project Peaks and Troughs – Trend for IT Contractors

It seems that this four weeks business is starting to catch on amongst companies as an ever better way of managing their peaks and troughs of resources demand.

You might say that things are equal in that we can also leave on this basis. It‘s not, though, because we can forget about ever working for that company again for a few years or even getting a decent reference.

In the old days, there was a supply and demand mechanism for balancing permies and freelancers‘ pay. The more you made it difficult for the latter, the less contractors there would be, and rates would rise up to compensate.

That doesn‘t happen now.

More Glamorous Contract

Of course this behaviour is unfair. Imagine if you turned down a less exciting but steady contract for a more glamorous one, only to be out on your ear three months earlier than you planned.

Imagine if you were away from home, and renting a flat on a six monthly lease.

We can complain about all this, but that won‘t get us anywhere. In fact, if we made it more difficult for clients to get rid of us on this basis, say, by asking for six weeks‘ grace, they might start sacking people on the spot with immediacy.

I don‘t know what the answer is, but I would advise people to guard against four weeks notice and be wary of contracts longer than three months.

If you‘re confident enough, ask about the possibility of it happening either when you start or even during the contractor interview. At least, then, if it does occur, you‘ll have the satisfaction of seeing the manager squirm as he/she goes back on the commitment they gave you.

However, let‘s hear better suggestions to deal with this latest trend for IT Contractors.

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