The golden rules to taking time off as a contractor

Christmas holidayWith Christmas fast approaching, thoughts are turning to the festive period. Employees will be organising their time off for this precious time of year. Unfortunately, contractors can find it difficult to request leave. Like freelancers, contractors are expected to be available around the clock – thanks to the flexibility self-employment or working from home offers.

In fact, this is just one of the unreasonable client expectations that contractors and freelancers have to avoid from the very outset. With the right preparation, however, you can get the time off you deserve over the Christmas period. Read on, to discover our golden rules for taking time off as a contractor, top tips that are certain to serve you well over the Christmas and beyond.

Make sure your finances stack up

Many contractors struggle to set appropriate rates, especially early in their contracting careers. Ensure you charge enough to cover the value of your talent and expenses, as well as the employee benefits that you don’t get access to as a contractor. Paid leave is one such perk that contractors and other self-employed professionals aren’t privy to, for instance. Freelancer News explains why adapting your rate to cover the added expense of taking time off is essential:

“Generally you should be charging more than you might think because you have to cover the benefits you would usually receive as an employee. This means that you can’t expect to live on the same amount of money you’d get per hour in a normal job. You have to cover business expenses, sick days, parental leave, pensions and holiday pay. If you’re charging enough to cover these then you can breathe a little easier during Christmas, knowing that you’re not going to struggle if you take a few days off from work.”

Keep your request reasonable

Contractors are just as entitled to take holidays as permanent staff members. If the length of your contract is more than one month, it is very rare that you wouldn’t have any time off at all. Keeping any requests for leave reasonable, particularly if your client’s busy period coincides with the Christmas holidays, is highly recommended. As a rule of thumb, ask for no more than two weeks off – a period that will quite comfortably cover Christmas and New Year.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more though. Just judge each scenario individually, taking into account the length of the contract, the client’s current demand and the progression of the contract itself. If you’ve been hitting goals and milestones left, right, and centre, then your client may be willing to give you more time off.

Time each contract right

The joy of working as a contractor is having the ability to pick and choose the contracts that you take on. Timing the start and end dates of each contract to perfection is a great way to ensure you can take as much holiday time as you like, completely guilt-free, over the festive period.

If timing the start and end dates of new and old contracts isn’t possible this Christmas, developing a great relationship with your client is always an excellent step in the right direction.