How to handle moving from a permanent role to a contracting role

Congratulations – you have secured your 1st contracting role through a recruitment agency. The recruiter will be keen for you to move as soon as possible because the sooner you move the sooner they start earning and the client most likely needs someone for the project yesterday!

The first thing to do is to step back and make sure that you make sure you are covered and protected as this process unfolds and that you do manage it in the best way possible. You will need to be provided with, and to review completely, the contracts provided via the agency – you will most likely sign 1 with them and 1 with the client. Nobody likes to read legalistic documents, but it is critical you do in this instance. In fact, if you have a friend or family member in the legal field you may ask them to review on your behalf. You are perfectly entitled to do this, and it may save you time and pain in the future if you do so. You are also perfectly entitled to question and ask for changes to anything within the contract that may not be confusing or hard to understand. Agreeing a contract is a 2-way process which must be equitable for both sides and must be entered without pressure or duress. If you do not have a legal person Accounting Pro can refer you to legal employment experts in Ireland or the UK to help.

It is also important to note that you want to leave your current permanent role on good terms. There is no point burning bridges and it is smart professionally to manage this process in a manner that suits all parties. So, once you have signed and returned the contract – and the agency and client have reconfirmed everything is a GO to start, in writing, (and the agreed start date itself) you need to go to your employer and advise you are leaving. As a matter of courtesy inform your manager and then HR of this. Make sure you have read your contract terms and your notice period and expect to be asked to stay the full term. In you have annual leave this can be factored into your departure date too and it is always advisable to take a short break from 1 role before starting another (it will help you decompress mentally and prepare for the new role). Do not try to leave early and break the terms of your notice period – this would be very bad professionally and bad form regardless at any rate. You can of course try and negotiate a quicker departure date but only if it is mutually agreeable – remember you need a reference too.

Finally, you need to make sure that you have considered and have everything set up for your payroll and accounting. Remember, you are now not ‘employed’ in the traditional sense anymore, you are your own employer. This may be daunting for some, but it is putting you in a position of power in your working life, you are now managing your own payment affairs and you need to be clued in as a result. So, do your research and again, like the legal situation, if you have a friend or family member with accounting experience get their advice on what to do next. If not, do your research! Look at the options – the 2 options are to join a PAYE Umbrella service OR to set up a personal limited company. There are companies, like Accounting Pro, who can and will go through your options AND assist your setup and manage everything for you. They will also advise on professional insurance, something which can be very important in some instances. Be aware of sales pitches that discuss ‘from’ – ask for a definite and exact monthly price and ensure it is stuck to – if you don’t the price can rise. Ultimately select the service that is best for YOU – consider price, customer service and automation in the decision-making process. Recruitment agencies may try and pressure you to use certain Umbrella companies, but it is a free world and you have every right to decide to use the solution you want – they should agree to use the Umbrella service you select if it is a proper Umbrella accounting service. Nobody should have a problem with your right, as a contractor, to select the service you want, and nobody should have a problem with competition – it just leads to a better situation for you – the contractor – and that is only right too!

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About the author: Kevin Deasy