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I'd like to ask some questions about IT contracting, but I thought it would be worth checking to see if they are on-topic at Freelancing. I can't see that this has specifically been asked on the Meta site yet.

In case the word means things in different regions, by "contracting" I mean a fixed-duration working relationship set up between a worker and a client, often with a recruiter arranging the introduction, and with no permanent employment benefits offered.

Contractors work on a daily rate rather than on a fixed/project cost basis, and - at least here in the UK - tend to set up a limited company rather than as a self tax-assessing sole trader. Contractors work only at one company at once, and usually on-site, but still regard themselves as self-employed.

Questions relating to contracting might include how to deal with recruitment agencies, contractual terms that one sets up with recruiters, as well as how to choose and set up country-specific company vehicles for the purposes of paying wages and taxation.

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Short answer: yes.

Contracting is definitely on-topic here, but I'd say we should stay away from agency work with a 15ft pole (it's employment via a third-party company).

That's not to say we shouldn't allow questions/answers from people who are contracting via an agency, just that we should probably not have questions specific to agencies.

A few points:

  • There's quite a few questions about here
  • We're a site for freelance and self-employed workers
  • By definition, a freelancer should actually be a contractor
  • Contractors are almost universally freelancers.
  • We could do with a few questions about disguised employment (how to avoid it, etc.)

In addition, it's actually recommended to incorporate as a freelancer in the UK, because you then don't have unlimited liability.

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  • Thanks for your reply. However, I think I might have accidentally given the impression I'm interested in asking about agency employment - I'm not. All IT contracting work I am looking at is offered by recruiters, who take a cut of the daily rate. However the contractor is not employed by the recruiter or an agency. (I may appear to be labouring the point, but in fact I just want to ensure I don't ask a question that accidentally violates the 'no agency work' posting rule because we understand the terminology differently). – halfer Aug 19 '15 at 8:17
  • @halfer IT contract work, regardless of if a recruiter arranges it, is still technically freelancing. You still do a self-assessment tax return, so you're still self-employed. You may technically be in disguised employment though, which is something I'd probably say was on-topic (that could be another question, though) – Amelia Aug 19 '15 at 8:20
  • Alright, thanks Amelia. Interesting that our understanding of 'contractor' diverges here - I have a number of friends who undertake the activity I have described, and they call themselves contractors. – halfer Aug 19 '15 at 8:22
  • @halfer I work for a company that recruits contractors and takes a margin, and I think we have exactly the same definition. Contractor and Freelancer are near-identical in meaning, and I think we shouldn't really differentiate them here – Amelia Aug 19 '15 at 8:25
  • I can agree with that, but you suggested that 'consultants' was a better word for what I had described? – halfer Aug 19 '15 at 8:29
  • @halfer "consultant" is usually used for a day-rate contractor in IT charging a premium, but not always, probably as a marketing tactic. It's usually for people who come in and fix things or implement a system then leave, and charge 3-4x more. – Amelia Aug 19 '15 at 8:31
  • Ah right, I see what you mean. I'm talking about day-rate individuals, undertaking a period of one to 12 months, at say £200-£400 per day. – halfer Aug 19 '15 at 8:36

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