Candidate Tips

Exploring Contract Work: Your Guide to the Basics

Dana Beer

Principal Consultant | General Practice

Jan 31, 2024

Are you considering diving into the world of contract work? The new year typically brings a surge of people exploring fresh career opportunities, with contract employment being an appealing option.

For those contemplating this shift, many questions arise. Let’s dive in to some of the most common questions we get asked as contract recruiters.

1. “Why do I need an Umbrella company?”

Good question, and where do you start? The first question that often comes up is about the necessity of an Umbrella company. At Oyster, we only use FCSA umbrellas to ensure legitimacy. No scandals, no mess. While they do charge a small weekly fee, the services they provide are invaluable.

But what do they actually do? The basics are:

  • They act as your employer.
  • Handle all tax queries and issues.
  • Distribute your contract and payslips.
  • Offer various perks, though it's wise to shop around for the best fit.

2. “Do I receive paid days off?”

Unfortunately, in the world of contract work, no work means no pay, or pension. However, umbrella companies often provide options for benefits to combat this. Fortunately, the day rate in contract roles usually outweigh the salary you would receive on a permanent position, potentially covering you for any days off.

3. “Do I need to come into the office?”

I asked someone the other day if they were available to work 5 days a week. Their response was, “That’s archaic!”

I could hear them relax immediately when I explained I meant working, not office days. Phew...

Modern contract work is far from the traditional 9 to 5 office grind. Most roles these days require you come into the office for a maximum of two days a week. The flexibility of remote work is a breath of fresh air for those wanting to get out of a rigid office structure.

4. “What is the typical duration of a contract role?”

The length of a contract role depends on the council, the sector, and the long-term plan.

On average, contracts on our GP desk last around 12 months. Initial contracts, however, may span 3 to 6 months, with the likelihood of extension based on project needs. Covering maternity leave, for instance, may result in a shorter tenure, with potential notice upon the employee's return.

Contract durations differ widely, so it's important to understand the specifics of each opportunity.

5. “How strong is the market?”

This is a more difficult question to answer, because ideally for security, you would love to hear the market is strong all year round.

Every year, the market has highs and lows. Often there are seasonal dips around the same time, such as summer. Managers are off and hiring drops, but this is expected during this time.

On the contrary, parts of the year, like April are strong – new budgets are confirmed, and people start using the cash to hire.

While there may be occasional gaps between roles, weighing up the pros and cons helps navigate the uncertainties of the market.

6. “Can I get a role in a Local Authority without prior experience?”

Securing a contract role in a Local Authority without prior experience may seem challenging, but it's not impossible.

While some councils prefer candidates familiar with the council environment, persistence and a willingness to adapt can open doors. We have placed many people into councils with no background in this sector – it’s very feasible to walk into the local authority world and stay.

If you still have unanswered questions or you think you want to make a switch to contract work, please get in touch. A conversation can lead to big things!

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Principal Consultant | General Practice

Dana Beer

Joining us in 2021, Dana has spent the past year proving how great she is at recruitment and she already has a loyal band of candidates and clients who know she’s the go-to girl for General Practice.

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