By ALEXANDER ANTONIOU

Freelance Vs. Permanent

Every day, I speak with many companies and many pharmaceutical industry professionals. Many have an opinion on the pros and the cons of Freelance/Permanent employment. The reason I decided to write this article, is because many didn’t have an opinion…They didn’t really know what the pros/cons were…In fact, many didn’t even know what “freelance” meant.

A “freelancer” is, essentially, someone that is self-employed. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that you must set-up your own limited company, there are many organisations out there that can cover the legal side, the payroll, and the taxes for you. Therefore, making it almost like you’re receiving a salary or a payslip as you would in a permanent position. These companies are most commonly known as “umbrella” companies. Now of course, for such a generous service, there is a fee associated with using them. If you’re thinking about going down this route, shop around to see which company quotes you the best.

“Freelancers” tend to work on projects or on contracts. These can be anything from “Ad-Hoc” (irregular hours worked when requested from the client) contracts, right the way through to full-time and long-term contracts. The majority of freelance contracts can be terminated with a short notice period and you will only be paid for the hours that you work.  

Now that we pretty much understand what a freelancer is and what they do, let’s look at some of the pros/cons of this type of employment.

freelance work

Pros of being a freelancer (to an employee)

1.      Pay: It isn’t unusual for a freelancer to receive a higher pay rate than a permanent employee. They are often paid quite fondly, due to the flexibility, the risk and the skill that they can bring to a company.

2.      Flexibility: As you’re “self-employed” you aren’t entitled to a set amount of holiday days. If you wish to take time off, this is most often far easier to do. You will also come to the end of contracts, meaning that you’re able to take time out to go on holidays, travelling or to spend time with the family, before finding a new contract. Due to the higher pay, it is quite likely that you will be able to do this!

3.      Knowledge: If you’re joining company after company, working on project after project, with a variety of different people each time – then it’s very likely that you will learn new skills, new ways of carrying out tasks and become more efficient.

4.      Enjoyment: Sometimes, being stuck in the same company for years and years can become quite…boring? Well you might be changing contracts every 6 months, this can keep things new and exciting for every time you go to work. This is great for people that lose interest quickly!

Cons of being a freelancer (to an employee)

1.      Risk: You might not have the same support from your company as you would if you were an employee. You have a shorter notice period, if the company is cutting costs, it is likely that the freelancers will be the first to go. Not only this, but when you reach the end of your contract, you have the uncertainty of how long it will take to find you a new one. Can you afford to be out of work for several weeks or perhaps even several months?

2.      Package: Freelancers don’t receive benefits or bonuses from the companies they work for. This is because they are not “employees”. Therefore, you won’t receive paid holiday, pension, insurances or any other benefits that the company may offer. This is just the way things are…

3.      Social: Quite often, freelancers might feel quite isolated. This is because they’re not often working in the same team for long periods. Therefore, not spending enough time with the team to become friends, go out for lunches or meet up after work. Sometimes the rest of the team may only see you as a “temporary” colleague, and might not make the same efforts to socialise.

Pros of using a freelancer (for a company)

1.      Heavy workloads: As a CRO or a Pharmaceutical company, sometimes you can experience busy periods that were unforeseen. This can put a lot of stress on your employees and may lead to them becoming less motivated and potentially even losing some staff due to stress. Some of these heavy workloads may be due to maternity leave or long-term sickness. During these busy periods, you can hire a freelancer to assist with the heavy workloads, reducing some of the stress for your valued staff – keeping their motivation levels high!

2.      Flexibility: You might not have the time to engage in a long search and tiresome recruitment process to find a permanent employee. It could be beneficial to find someone, immediately available, to join right away. You will always have the flexibility to terminate contracts, with short notice-periods, and to reduce the hours, without any extra costs/fees.

3.      Expertise: It’s a fact…Freelancers have worked for several different companies. They have been brought in at stressful times, where projects are failing, they have the experience and knowledge of working under harsh pressure. They also have the experience brought from many different environments and may join and truly improve the efficiency of your department by informing you of methods you were unaware of previously.

4.      Headcount Restrictions: Freelancers don’t count as internal employees! Therefore, if you have some recruitment budget but you have headcount restrictions – then freelancers could be a great solution for you.

Cons of using a freelancer (for a company)

1.      Cost: If you’re looking for a freelancer to work within the team for a long period (a couple of years), then it can be quite costly to keep them onboard due to the higher pay rate.

2.      Social: Sometimes, freelancers might not quite feel like part of the team/company, as they know they will be leaving shortly. This might mean that they don’t take part in social events or liaise with the team outside of work hours. This might not be a good fit for your culture (depending on the type of environment).

Now, I am fully aware that there are probably many other Pros and Cons to freelancers. I just hope that I have covered the main ones for you. Those of you that were unsure, and perhaps considering a freelancing career, I hope that this has cleared stuff up for you. Companies who were unsure about whether they should add freelancers to their business models, I hope that this has also helped you too.

If you’re interested in finding out more, then you can feel free to get in touch.

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