As a contractor or freelancer, it’s important to maintain a good work-life balance and plan some time away to re-charge your batteries and spend time with your loved ones. There are no set rules for taking time off as a contractor or freelancer; however, there are some golden rules to follow to manage your time wisely.
Keep your plans for time off reasonable
Unless you are employed on a very short contract or are working on a labour-intensive job such as offshore on an oil rig, it is very unlikely that you will be required to work every day of your contract.
As a general rule of thumb do not plan any time off for more than a week within the first month or so of a contract, and if possible, avoid taking any time off at all to start with. It could affect your chances of securing the contract, and someone else could be hired instead of you who has less time off planned.
Use your time off between contracts wisely
As your time off is not paid by your client there is no limit to the number of days off you can take per year. However, during a contract it is very unlikely that you will have the opportunity to take long periods of time off from the project as this could adversely affect your deliverability or cause a delay in the client meeting another deadline.
If you wish to take long periods of time off (a month or more) it is best to plan to do this between contracts. This way, your time away won’t have any consequences for a client and the projects they need to complete.
It is advised where possible to line up a new contract, or contract renewal, ready for your return. This way you can avoid long periods of time with no income. However, many clients will hire contractors on short notice so it may not be possible to have a contract ready to return to.
If you want to return to work quickly after your time off, keep an eye on job sites and apply for a few contracts whilst you are away if possible.
Inform your client
When you are looking for a new contract you may already have a holiday booked, or a period of time off planned. As a courtesy to a potential client, after receiving an offer of a contract let the client know that you have this time scheduled off if it conflicts with the agreed terms.
If you can agree with your client that the time off you have scheduled won’t affect your deliverability of the work set out in the contract, you can either have it written in or agreed more informally in writing. Keep in mind that if you have the right of substitution (one of the pillars of IR35) then you can send a suitable substitute in your place while you are away.
Taking extended time off when you are contracted to work may not always be possible if you are only contracting for a short period of time, or if there is a very tight deadline that is fast approaching. Doing so could cause headaches or lead to a breach in contract on your part.
Make sure your finances cover your holiday periods
As a limited company contractor, you will only get paid when you are working, so you need to budget your finances to have enough to cover yourself when you are taking time off. It is recommended that when you are setting your rates you take into account around 35-40 days off per year. This should account for holidays and any unexpected days off you may have for illness.
Do you need more information about taking time off as a contractor or freelancer? Speak to an expert at Churchill Knight & Associates Ltd
Be prepared and proactive as a contractor or freelancer. Your time off should be a time to unwind and de-stress without having to worry about your next contract or your financial situation.
If you would like any further information regarding how contracting or freelancing works, or if you have any questions regarding your payroll option with Churchill Knight, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01707 871622.