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Guest Blog: Five questions that contractors should ask at the start of their contract

April 10th, 2019

At the beginning of a contract, it’s useful as a contractor to establish certain facts regarding the assignment. This will ensure that both you as the contractor and the client are clear regarding key issues. It will also establish a clear channel for future communication that will help to keep the project on track.

Our partners at Umbrella Exchange have pulled together some common questions, that as a contractor, you can ask at the beginning of your new project.

1. What is the end objective of the project?

This is a good opportunity to clarify the end objective of the project if there’s any uncertainty. The objective will be stated in the contract, but contractors should also ascertain this beforehand. In most cases, contractors will need to know a cut off point for their services, and this isn’t always immediately clear. For example, is the objective to developing a product for launch, or to develop and launch a product? Are there any tangible items that the client is expecting to see as part of the process, or as the end result?

2. What is the time scale for the project?

It’s vital for contractors to know the predicted timescale involved and any deadline that the client has to meet, as this will allow them to plan a schedule for the project. It will also allow them to forecast how much the project is worth financially, and to factor in other commitments they might have. Contractors can also assess if the client has over estimated or underestimated the timescale, which will give them a good idea of the kind of pressure involved. Sometimes a client will want the contractor to advise them of the timescale, especially if they have previous experience handling similar assignments.

3. Have you completed similar projects previously?

Asking about previous projects that are similar or related will give you a good idea of what’s expected. Talking with the client about previous projects they’ve commissioned will give contractors an awareness of potential areas of difficulty and measures that could be employed to reduce risk. Knowledge of the company’s other projects can also give contractors a head start when it comes to planning and assessment.

4. Who will be my point of contact for the assignment?

Although many contractors work with a high degree of independence, it’s still vital that they have a primary point of contact for the assignment. Identifying this person will help you to understand what level of insight you have into the company. It’s also useful for contractors to know if their contact has a particular style of working and the best times to contact them.

5. Is the contract ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ IR35?

Reforms to the off-payroll rules mean that, in the public sector, the end client will have responsibility for determining if IR35 applies to a contract. These reforms are set to apply to the private sector in 2020. If contractors are working through their own limited company, the IR35 status of a contract is an important consideration, as it will affect the way that they are paid. If IR35 applies, it may be more convenient for the contractor to work through an umbrella company. If the contract falls outside IR35, the contractor will also need to consider how this is reflected in writing.

Article written by Umbrella Exchange.

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