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Q&A: "My first experience with the independent contractor compliance process"

By featured author Jamie Noble, 24 year independent contractor, on May 8th 2019

Listen to the audio here: 

Think back to your first consulting assignments or, alternatively, anticipate your first consulting gig. What one word would either summarize how you felt at the time or how you expect to feel when you get your first gig?

What did you feel?

Did you feel anticipation because you're going to try something new? Perhaps it was hope that everything would go well. Other people feel excitement—they can't wait to get started. There are some who feel fear. What it doesn't go well? What if it doesn't work out?

And another common one is fulfilment: living the dream. You've always thought about doing that, and now you finally on your way. For me, my word was excitement. I couldn't wait to get started. I wanted to do this for a long time. And it was time to do it.

What’s interesting about this is if you interview a hundred people and ask them exact same question, not one of them will pick the word compliance.

And, honestly, that would've been true for me too. My first impression when going through the Hays compliance process was, “Great, another gate to go through—one I haven’t really thought about. What does this mean for my potential starting on my assignment that I'm looking forward to?”

After it was done, what was interesting about it was it was fast, it was very straight-forward. There were no real surprises. And it turned out to be extremely useful to me. However, the extremely useful part wasn't all the normal stuff that happens. The reference checks, the criminal record check, and all those other things as part of the compliance process made me think about my dual roles as the owner of my company: there's Jamie the consultant and then there's Jamie the company president (which is often an afterthought for people in consulting until they need to bring it up).

As part of that, Jamie the company president, I had to think about both the references I had in the past and how do I continue to acquire good references that will keep moving my business forward. I think about partnerships—what other companies or consultants I'd like to partner with? To get things done, I think about what opportunities might be out there? I had to consider insurance. What’s the right amount of insurance for me? What's the right level of protection? What do I actually need? There's, of course, the impact on taxation, audits, things of that nature, that are governmental.

I even had to consider holidays. How am I going to have a vacation? What happens on statutory holidays? Do I get paid or do I just need it? Alternately, how do I go about paying myself?

These are the questions that were raised when I entered the complaint process. They really made me think about being Jamie the president rather than just Jamie the consultant. Having gone through this process a couple times, I still have a few questions:

If I’ve had two assignments that have been extended, how long should I insure moving forward? If it’s a six month extension? Should I go for six months right once? Or maybe it’s more prudent to go a month at a time? Turns out that we can actually increase our insurance by one week increments.

The other side is, what happens if I extend for six months but it turns out that was an optimistic extension? What if you actually get everything done in three months? What happens to the extra three months you paid for? Do you get a refund?

These are all things that have occurred to me and there are lots of questions like this (which are covered in the Hays IT Contractor Compliance 101 Webinar).

Ultimately, becoming a full-time consultant and a freelancer has come to represent freedom for me. The freedom to decide my career path fully, including the course to take and the training that I want to invest in. Being a freelancer truly has led to excitement and living the dream.

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