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Is freelance work they way to go?

I’ve been diagnosed 6 years and I’m still working full time. I travel a lot through work but I’m worried I won’t be able to keep it up much longer. I work for a very small organisation and as I’m senior management they expect me to do evening and weekend work too. I do work from home twice a week but the days I do go into the office are usually over 12 hour days and this month I’ve already worked two 6 day weeks. When I come home I often just have a bite to eat and go straight to bed - it’s not much fun.

I’m thinking about changing my job but I work in a very niche sector and to be honest most of the jobs end up being like this especially at my level. I’m worried about applying for less senior jobs and having to explain why, but I know I can’t keep going at this pace. They are quite a good organisation but I don’t feel I can ask for anything more (two days a week at home was very generous of them) and I know they need someone who can keep going at this pace to keep the company going.

Ideally I would work maybe three days a week but part time jobs, especially well paid senior ones, are so rare. I’m thinking of going freelance so I can pick and choose when I work, but the friends I have who are freelance tell me it’s even harder work than being employed as you’re always chasing new work / contracts.

I don’t know what to do. I’m the major breadwinner in the family so I’m feeling the pressure, but I feel like I’m asking for trouble if I don’t change something.

Any advice would be most appreciated. Thanks.

It’s a tricky one. My friends who have gone freelance say exactly the same as yours. If anything, they are more deadline-driven than when they were employed by someone else - workload seems even more difficult to manage, and it’s often either feast or famine. They are frank about the fact that one of the reasons it works well for them is that they have an other half in steady FT employment, so the basics are covered even if the freelance wing of the household is sick, or business is bad. They do also say that, in a niche business, the single-person-company freelancers pitching for similar work will tend to know each other and can (and do) help each other out when someone finds himself snowed under.

Things like the benefits of sick pay, employer pension contributions and paid holidays and contractual entitlements in case of redundancy are too obvious to need mentioning, but people who make the leap all seem to say that they don’t half miss these! One thing I would suggest is that you should check out, if you have not already done so, what happens in your company if someone has to retire on the grounds of ill health. This can be a massive incentive to stay in employment. Employers who would be liable to shell out big time tend to breathe an enormous sigh of relief when someone with MS obligingly resigns, relieving them of a potentially big financial liability.

Alison

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If you want to go “contracting” or “consulting”, you need your own company. Nothing flash, just you and your partner as directors, and the company then employs you. If things go pearshaped, the other director can fire you and you sign on as unemployed. That way, you only have to worry about NI payments while you are working. Another benefit of a company, is that you can be paid a low wage, and take the money out as Director’s Fees - that means that you need a good accountant. Of course, you will need one anyway to handle the VAT. If you prosper, you can get the company car of your choice. And, some employers will only deal with companies - it is a way of making quite sure that they do not get caught for trying to avoid VAT payments, NI contributions, Income Tax payments, etc.

But now, think about this - long and hard!
Contract staff are there to fill “temporary” positions. If it is a fixed term contract that ends in April or May, quite often you will not get another job until September. All the top brass will be taking their holidays in the summer, and there will not be enough of them around to make the big decisions.

Talk to your present firm about you going out on your own. They may hand you a contract there and then, to do about 60% of what you do now, rather than lose you altogether. Or, may be they won’t - you should know how they might react.

Most of my friends who have tried it say the same thing - you make twice as much money, but you only work half the time. I you can make that 3/4 of the time, then you can do quite nicely.

HTH - Geoff

Hello everyone,

Hello Mancunia,

Being self employed sounds very attractive, I did it for many years, but as my MS became more obvious it becme apparent that people were discriminating against me. Walk into an interview with a serious limp, a stick and mobility scooter outside then guage the reaction. I’m sure the discrimination was not wilful but where there is a project with both tight deadlines & costs many thousands of manhours that must be met then I was a risk.

Towards the end I only got work cos of recomendations from my friends and not through interview. Now retired from that and workig from home setting up my own website, http://www.aid4disabled.com/, I am much happier but poorer.

Its all about where you are happiest and most confident. Hopefully my website will be a success,.Working as a freelance computer technical consultant was too stressful. Looking for the next contract was no fun and seemed to come round more and more frequently.

Think very carefully about going freelance. Do you want stress, worry and MS - you are only as good as last contract…

Much happier to be out of that side of things.

Good luck,

Patrick

I began working as a freelance translator gradually. I was employed in college teaching but occasionally picked up translating jobs for a former employer where I had previously worked full time. As time went on and I was no longer teaching but was a stay-at-home mother of two, freelance work was the only kind I could do without hiring a sitter. More time passed and I began to think I could earn a living at freelance translating because I had more work than I could finish.

I did so for several years. I’d say this: Before you decide to switch to freelance work, make sure you can earn enough to live on without having to work around the clock. Eventually I found that I was working very long hours just to pay routine bills.