Contractor, Agency Worker or Employee: Things aren’t what they used to be

How often do you hear the expression “Things aren’t what they used to be”? I think I hear it about once a week. Cars aren’t the same, TVs have changed so much in the last decade. Dating has changed dramatically over the previous ten years. And so has the jobs market – employment is changing and more people are choosing to a contractor or an agency worker.

Contractor, Agency Worker

Once upon a time, getting a job in a company and staying there FOREVER was the thing to do. Respectable. Expected. But now very few people will work for one company for their entire career. More people question whether companies are committed to their employees. That feeling of being secure in your job isn’t there anymore. Millenials, in particular, want to work at companies who look after the employees wellness rather than working at a company that has a no redundancy policy. But the most apparent change is the rise of contractors and agency workers.

Contractors are people who do work for a company for a fixed period but are never employed by that company. They don’t have access to all of the employee benefits, and there is always the risk that the contract might be cut short. But on the other side of it, the flexibility and freedom are a real win for that person. Contractors are very much on the rise in Ireland, but there are some pitfalls with it. The contractor is responsible for the relationship with the client and will need to negotiate pay rates. It also means that they need to manage their tax and PRSI contributions.

An agency worker is similar to a contractor. The main difference is that an employment agency employs an agency worker under a contract of employment and that worker will be hired out to another business. Think temporary staff for office work, temporary construction workers for sites and you get the idea of how it works. The agency worker will work under the supervision and direction of the company not the employment agency. The agency is responsible for paying your tax and PRSI contributions out of your wages. Overall it’s a more secure way of working, the risk of the contract being cut short is reduced by having an agency in place to protect you.

An employee is still the go-to option for people entering the workplace or looking to get back into work. You are employed directly by a company to do work at that company. You receive all the benefits that the company offers; it is the traditional model that is out there. But by all means, this model is changing. People are looking for a more flexible work arrangement.

Why use a recruitment agency?

Recruitment agencies have industry knowledge of the companies who are hiring or getting ready to hire. They have relationships with the Directors, HR Managers or Hiring Managers and can get CVs in front of the right person early. 

If you are contracting directly it may be hard to get the time to follow up on contracts; a recruitment agency will manage the follow-ups and keep you updated about the job. 

Recruitment agencies are great for contracts. If you have previous work experience, then all you need is an up to date CV and register with a recruitment agency that specialises in your industry. 

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