Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My boss is jealous of me

Today I’m angry at my boss. I’m a contractor so my boss changes fairly often but the issue with this boss is always in the background and sometimes in the foreground when you’re a contractor: she thinks I get paid too much.

My initial contract period is coming to an end and my boss said she wanted to extend the contract for another three months. All good so far. I called my agency to see if the extension had been made official and they told me the boss was very happy with my work but wanted to know if my rate was “short term” and seeing as how they were extending my term would I go for a lower rate. She even apparently dropped a line something like “at that rate he’d get more in six months than I get in a year”.

This makes me angry for a number of reasons:

First, I don’t give a damn about your pay rate, just mine. I get paid market rates for my experience and the level of demand for my skills (essentially whatever I can get away with). This rate has nothing to do with anybody’s wage for their permanent position.

Second, it’s just against the rules of the game. When you hire a contractor, you don’t try to make them feel guilty about their rates. If you can’t handle that a contractor gets paid more than you, don’t hire contractors. Or at least don’t hire good contractors.

Third, when you balance everything, contractors aren’t always much better off. Remember, I don’t get annual leave or sick leave and I don’t get paid for public holidays. If I aint at a desk I aint gettin’ paid. So to get a more realistic idea of a contractor’s annual income, calculate them getting paid for about 46 weeks, not 52. Then I have to do my own superannuation, tax and health cover (which requires an accountant). At the end of it all, contracting pays about a 20% premium over an equivalent permanent role. And that’s just the extra you get for giving up job security.

So don’t whine about contractors getting paid more than you, it’s petty and essentially not very accurate. If contractors were really twice as well off as permanent employees then everybody would be contracting. Don’t be jealous, make the leap to contracting if you think it’s so much better.

Or just shut the hell up.

I gave my response: no, I won't lower my rates for an extension (subtext: I don't care if you don't extend my contract). I did, of course, check the job listings before making this decision. My job sector is still booming and in fact I could probably boost my rate by 20% or more if I went for a new contract, but apart from my boss whining about how much I make I like this job (and the people - even my boss). I remember how badly I got screwed when the job market cratered in '01 so right now I'm gettin' me some while the gettin's good. Welcome to John Howard's economy.

Result: I got the extension to my contract less than 24 hours later.

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