The Pros and Cons of Contract Employment

Is a contract role in your future?

The Pros and Cons of Contract Employment

More and more job offers in Canada are on a contract basis. This means that the position you are hired for states upfront that it will last for a fixed amount of time IE three months, six months, a year, etc.

There are many good reasons to seek out contract employment as part of your search for work. Most job seekers only focus on postings that are “permanent” (that is, where you are brought on as a regular employee, and your income taxes and pension plan contributions are deducted from your paycheck directly by the employer). This means that they are missing out on the numerous opportunities presented by contract positions.


The Pros Of Contract Employment

Accepting a job that is designed to last for a fixed amount of time has its benefits. For one thing, employers tend to value maturity and extensive experience when hiring for these positions, since they want to bring on board someone who can jump right in and do the job with a minimum of fuss or extra training. So being a little older or over-qualified may work in your favour.

Here are some other positives to consider: 

  • You get a chance to impress the employer, and this can lead to an offer to be brought on board full-time as a regular employee
  • Since you are being paid as a “contractor” instead of as a regular staffer, you may be eligible to deduct a portion of your work-related expenses that you wouldn’t typically qualify for
  • You have an opportunity to sample many employers by taking on a series of different contracts in a variety of industries
  • What matters most in a contract position is the results that you produce for the employer. Thus you may find yourself not needing to get as involved in workplace politics.


Contract Work: What To Watch Out For

While there are many upsides to contract work, it is not ideal for everyone. In particular, if you do not savour the idea of having to re-market yourself to a new employer toward the end of every contract job, then you should probably think twice before accepting a fixed-term position.

Other potential negatives to consider:

  • Since other employees will know that you are only there for a specific amount of time, they may not invite you into their “inner circle” or share as much information with you
  • You will be paid as a contractor, which means the employer will not deduct for taxes. You must, therefore, make sure to remit your taxes to the government on your own
  • You may not be offered such ordinary entitlements as vacation pay, benefits, training allowances, and pension contributions made by the employer
  • There will be no severance pay provided to you at the end of your contract (unless you have negotiated a provision for this in your terms of employment)


It’s An Option To Keep In Mind

Depending on your personality and desire for stability, contract employment may or may not be a suitable option for you. On the one hand, a fixed-term job gets you a foot in the door and provides a short-term solution if you are currently unemployed. It allows you to get to know the employer and could turn into something more “permanent” if it turns out there’s a mutual fit.

Then again, the need to job search, again and again, is built right into this type of position. Also, you may be viewed as a temporary outsider by your co-workers, or you may not be entitled to the kinds of benefits that a regular employee typically receives. Therefore you should give it some thought before leaping into a contract job. But if you do decide to go for it, you may find it’s a great way to earn a living.