There are many advantages to working as a contractor. Doing so provides one with flexibility and an independence that permanent employment is simply unable to offer. There are, however, potential drawbacks as well and it is critical to understand these and mitigate them, in order to fully enjoy the benefits of taking a contracting job.
The first step is to know your rights as a contract worker, or perhaps a small business owner, and what these rights specifically mean for you.
These are some of the potential risk areas that may be faced by small business owners and contract workers:
- Health & Safety – Contractors often work in hazardous environments, and are therefore exposed to potentially dangerous conditions such as noise, toxins or extremes of temperature. As a starting point, all risks need to be identified and assessed, and adequate measures put in place to mitigate against these.
- Employment Law – Like all areas of the law, this is a complex area and a good understanding of how it applies to you is essential so you can make sure your own requirements are met, as well as that of your employer.
- Public Liability – The activities of a contractor can very often impact the public, so the health and safety of people who are not necessarily expected to be on a worksite must also be taken into consideration, with the correct protective measures made and the appropriate insurances prepared.
Understanding your rights and entitlements in each of these areas is essential to ensuring your own workplace health and safety.
When things go wrong
An employing organization is legally responsible for protecting their workers, including contractors, from harm caused by work activities. This can include providing the right clothing, equipment in good condition, and delivering job-specific training. Adequate supervision must be in place, with a suitable number of people present at all times, and workplace hazards must be protected against. Contracted employees should ensure, for their own safety and the safety of their colleagues, that such measures are in place and they play their part in adopting them.
Sadly, even with the best preparation, things can go wrong. In such instances, one of the most important things to do is speak to personal injury experts, who can advise on a suitable course of action and help you receive that to which you are entitled.
Be Proactive, not Reactive
Developing a solid understanding of your rights as a contractor is something you should do as a priority and in preparation for accepting a contracting job. Too many people wait until they urgently need to know their rights before acquiring this crucial knowledge and, as a result, put themselves at a distinct disadvantage when the worst happens.
Being proactive in knowing your rights is essential and the best way of helping yourself to feel confident and comfortable, and therefore in the best position to make the most of such a potentially rewarding and enjoyable opportunity.