Contracting vs. Permanent

With contract positions on the rise employees are finding themselves asking  – what is most suited to me, contract or permanent employment? 


At Oyster Partnership most specialist divisions have a dedicated contract and permanent team who spend every day speaking to clients requiring candidates for both. We understand why these positions have been created in the first place and it’s then our job to find the best person for the role.

So here’s what we’ve learnt:

Contracting: What are the positives?


Let’s start with the big one here, the rates are vastly better in contracting than in permanent or fixed term contract positions. Simply put, your services as a specialist that plugs gaps and provides essential short term cover entitles you to a higher amount of take home income. We can take an example of a basic salary for a Graduate or Officer who may be on a salary of around £19,000 to £25,000 which in an hourly rate equates to around £11.50 per hour LTD, where as in a contracting role we could expect anywhere between £15 to £25+ per hour LTD which equates to £45,000 per annum, for doing the same job.


Many contractors are happy to travel the country in search of different opportunities and while all that travel may seem unappealing to some, the option of potentially working from home (two days in the office and three from home) or condensed hours (full working week condensed into three days = four day weekend every week), suddenly it doesn’t seem quite so bad. Flexibility works twofold as not only are working arrangements flexible, so is the type of work, location and even contract lengths. Have you got private consultancy dreams but would like a secondary source of income? Or what about travelling the world and finding a job to fit? Contracting may be a solution.

Career Progress 

It’s no secret that contractors move around from place to place and from job to job. But what impact does this really have? Moving around gives you the opportunity to develop your skill sets in more diverse surroundings, as well as being given the opportunity to try new things. Not only will this make you a more well-rounded employer, it will also give you the necessary skills to jump up through the ranks should this be an ambition.

Work/Life Balance 

Everybody loves the idea of work/life balance but unfortunately when employees are trying to get ahead and climb the ladder, in some scenarios it requires a heavy focus on work. Not everyone is the same though, and sometimes life is about getting through work to fund your other passions, or just enjoying your lifestyle outside of the work. In contracting, you have more options. 

In a somewhat uncertain environment overall, there’s one thing that is certain and that’s the rise in demand for contractors. Often for that reason exactly!

We sometimes act like contracting is still the taboo option, where one’s sanity may be questioned due to the uncertainty. For example “your contract is only three months, after that you’ll be looking for months” or “there’s no security” or even “the government is going to getting rid of all contractors in the next year or two”. However, if we actually delve into the working labour force within Local Authorities, we can see that nearly 50% are contractors from receptionists to Surveyors to Town Planners, so what’s with the panic? After all, fortune favours the bold. 

Permanent Contracts: What are the benefits of permanent roles?

Essentially, permanent contracts are where you agree and sign particular terms with your employer on an on-going basis. Typically these contracts include a monthly salary, along with a range of other entitlements. An important distinction is that permanent roles occur throughout the public and private sector, while the majority of temporary positions are created through immediate needs (where they would prefer to have permanent staff but are unable to find them).

Long term security

With a permanent contract you have the luxury of being much harder to get rid of. This results in a reliable, steady stream of income without having to worry about peaks and troughs. Additionally, a long notice period of typically between one and three months means you have plenty of notice to find something else should there be redundancies, making for a more leisurely job hunt to find something right for you.

Getting paid to go on holidays

Permanent contracts stipulate a minimum of 28 days (5.6 weeks) of paid holiday per annum. Some employers choose to give the eight days of UK bank holidays in addition to this, as well as hashing out a well deserved increase in allowance when the time comes for an annual review.

Sick pay, pension contributions, car allowance and bonus schemes 

Benefits are handy! And in some organisations, this extends across gym memberships and fully paid work holidays. Additionally, if you are let go from a permanent contract you are eligible to be paid a redundancy package (calculated by length of service). So although temporary contracts technically pay more per hour, you would only receive that in total if you never take a holiday or need a day off sick.

Employers tend to favour having permanent staff 

Ideally they want people who are invested long term in projects and areas. They are therefore more likely to promote training and development of permanent staff as they recognise they are investing in them to continue to work for them in the future. This also means that permanent guys are more likely to gain greater variety of experience and be given top pick of the projects and interesting work to facilitate their progression. This may be why permanent staff would usually be considered before their temporary counterparts for promotion.

A healthy CV 

A long term consideration is that ideally you will have a have a myriad of work, showcasing a range of what you can do over substantial lengths and depths of involvement. If you spend a long time going in and out of temporary contracts, never sinking teeth into projects for longer than six months, then you may not be doing your future career justice, particularly if you aspire to move into the sort after consultancy or client side roles as you progress. 

Contact us to talk about your preferences…. your dream career could be just around the corner!