It doesn’t matter what industry sector you are in, freelance staff can occasionally prove to be an extremely cost-effective way of getting work done. The advantages are clear to all, including the fact that you don’t have the legal and other commitments associated with recruiting permanent employees. Even so, there are a few points that are worth taking into account if your freelancer experience is to be successful and rewarding for both you and the individual(s) concerned.
1. Interview The Candidates Extensively
Some novice employers of freelance staff make the mistake of trying to operate on a hire-and-fire basis. The logic goes that it isn’t necessary to take a lot of care over the selection of freelancers because if they subsequently prove not to be suitable, for whatever reason, you owe nobody any explanations and can simply fire them. In fact, that logic is deeply flawed!
Although freelance staff typically don’t have the same rights and protections under the law as permanent employees, it is still expensive for an organisation to go through the recruitment process for contract staff only to find later that they are unsuitable. So, don’t do it! Take your time and apply most of the careful selection criteria you would in instances where you were hiring a permanent employee.
2. Use A Freelancer Agency
This recommendation might prove to be a little controversial to some, as the agencies can add a percentage commission to the process. It nevertheless will reduce your risk. Agencies providing freelance staff should, if they are professional, have made sure that the contractor has a verified track record behind them – perhaps including having worked previously for the agency concerned. If they are sending them along to you on that basis, it reduces your risks of selecting someone who subsequently proves to be unreliable or unsuitable etc.
3. Verify Their Taxation And Legal Status
In certain situations, HMRC may believe that there are sufficient grounds for categorising you as a de-facto employer and requiring that you pay tax and National Insurance contributions for the individual concerned. Space does not permit a full discussion of the complexities here but it might be another reason for sourcing your contract staff through the agency as opposed to taking them on directly as individuals.
Even that isn’t entirely guaranteed to make you immune from these unexpected tax and NI hits. Suffice it to say here for the sake of brevity, research this area carefully and be sure you understand the legal status of the person you are using.
4. Make Sure They Are Fully Covered By Insurance
Your need to check as this will vary depending upon the nature of your business and industry sector but it would be a wise move to make certain that the individual you are using is covered by appropriate freelancer insurance. That covers things such as personal accidents and professional liability cover etc. Insurance providers such as Aon provide freelance insurance for freelancers.
5. Integrate Their Activities With Existing Staff
It is not unusual to discover on-site contract personnel who are poorly integrated into the mainstream of a company’s normal business processes. This can arise for a number of reasons, including permanent employee resentment if they perceive your contract staff to be more highly paid than they are. The resulting us-and-them mentality can become destructive, divisive and inefficient. Avoid this happening and make sure that your permanent employees understand all of the benefits they have that their freelance colleagues do not.