Contractor not informed of change of hours

I work as a independent contractor. I was given a schedule that was set by the owner of the company. The supervisor was left in charge after the owner had to go away on family matters. I continued my schedule as normal which was Monday to Saturday. Come Monday 7.30 am it turns out I was not advised that I didn’t work that day. I called the supervisor and by the time he finally returned my call it was 9 am. Am I entitled to get paid for that time I was there? Also if I was being insulted with my knowledge of it happening what can I do about it? I have been working for this company for two years with no pay increase and they sometimes treat me like nothing.

Independent contractors are not employees and they don’t have employment rights. So, if you have made the transition from being an employee to becoming a freelancer, then don’t be surprised if your client – not your employer – treats you differently to other workers who are employed.

But contractors do have contracts and, alongside other legislation that may apply such as health and safety and equalities legislation and the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), they do enjoy legal rights when they go contracting as a result of contract law.

If your client tries to change your hours by forcing you to work fewer hours than what the contract says, then your options depend on the small print in your contract. If the contract is quite prescriptive and says your hours are Monday to Saturday from 07:30 to 16:00, then you should turn up at 07:30 ready for work.

If the client, or their representative, does not tell you that you’re not needed until 09:00, then they should pay you for that time. After all, the contract says you start at 07:30 and the client has to honour that contract just as much as you do.

As an independent contractor, you are paid a fee and not a salary – salaries or wages are what employees receive. And your client believes it has a business-to-business relationship with you, a service provider. Most companies want to reduce their supplier costs, not unilaterally decide to increase them, so don’t expect your client to be pro-active about increasing pay.

The contents of your contract may determine whether and when your fees should be reviewed. If there is no provision for rate increases, then ideally, you should try to negotiate a fee increase when you renew your contract.

If your co-workers – your client’s employees – are giving you a hard time, then as an independent contractor your options are limited if what is being said becomes more than just banter. With no employment rights, handling discrimination and harassment in the workplace often comes down to negotiation with your client and co-workers, perhaps having a quiet word with the employee’s manager.

Contractors are often paid more, sometimes much more, than equivalent employees, who don’t realise that contractors pay their own tax, sick pay, pension, don’t get paid holidays and so on. As a result of this lack of understanding, employees can be unkind to contractors out of misplaced envy.

Finally, remember that as an independent contractor, you are free to look for better paid contracts in a more pleasant work environment. As the UK economy continues to grow and skills shortages worsen, with the right skills and experience you will be able to find better paid work elsewhere.

 





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