Can I work as a contractor rather than on a salary?
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Can I work as a contractor rather than on a salary?

This question was recently asked after a job interview for a senior accountant role in London. A candidate had applied for a role as a client manager working with a Xero orientated company, demonstrated the experience and been offered the role on a salary of £35,000 per annum. The firm were very keen to have this accountant and the accountant sounded keen to work there.

However after 24 hours the accountant got in touch with us to ask if, when he worked there he could do it on a freelance basis rather than a salaried, because “it was tax advantageous for him”. Could we check with the firm to find out?

This type of question immediately sets off huge alarm bells ringing for any recruitment consultant, because it indicates fairly clearly that someone who one minute was looking for a permanent role in a company working on a full time basis for a salary, is now looking for something more freelance that enables them to do other work as well, which implies therefore that it is not going to be on a full time basis and he is not going to be able to give the firm the time they require.

Furthermore it implies that the candidate may not be looking for a long term full time permanent role in the business and instead be looking at it as a short term contract solution.

If you are a candidate and this is a genuine question because you have other clients and you are looking to work in something more full time but also maintain your other work as well, then you need to be discussing this with the firm at interview stage and not going through an interview and then deciding afterwards to ask the question.

If you are an employer then it is probably worth considering very carefully if someone asks this question after interview whether or not this is a good candidate to employ on a permanent full time basis. Does someone who is asking questions about working as a contractor have the right mentality to be an employee at your practice? It may be that a contractor arrangement suits you perfectly and if this is the case then all well and good, but similarly if you are after someone who is going to join your company and stay with you for a long time, demonstrating loyalty and perhaps succeeding you or buying into the business, then someone who wants to work as a contractor after attending one interview and before starting work is very unlikely to be a long term prospect for your company.