Re: Looks like I'll be freelancing again

Subject: Re: Looks like I'll be freelancing again
From: <puff -at- guild -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 11:56:34 -0400

Kat Nagel writes:
> I was called into my boss's office this afternoon. RTE "has
> re-evaluated the way it handles documentation, in the light of the
> current economic situation, and has decided that it would be in the
> company's best interest to continue our relationship on a freelance
> basis".

Sucks. The language they're using should give you some
indication of how much integrity they have...

> In two weeks I get my last paycheck as a full-time employee. No firm
> commitment to how many freelance projects they plan on, of course, or
> to a specific pay rate. <sigh> It isn't clear whether I'll be
> eligible for unemployment benefits, either, since I haven't actually
> been laid off, just 'reclassified as an external resource' (whatever
> that means).

Like fucking hell. Pardon my french. They have just FIRED YOU
because their business is going through hard times. This is THEIR
FAULT. They have also expressed interest in contracting some
freelance work to you, but that has no bearing on the FACT that it is
THEY who terminated the relationship through NO FAULT OF YOURS.

What you do is:

1) Nod at the termination interview and say, "Here's my card."

2) Bop on over to the unemployment office and file for
unemployment; when asked why you left your former employ,
say "laid off due to economic downturn."

3) Discuss with the unemployment folks that your employer
mentioned the possiblity of offering you some freelance
work. Note very carefully that it is a _possibility_,
and that you have no firm offer. Ask what the process
is if you get some part-time freelance work. (*)

4) Educate yourself about freelance rates and practices in your
area. When/if your employer contacts you, offer them a
competetive rate, but don't short yourself. Typical practice
is to calculate required take-home rate and multiply by three.
For every $10 you want to take home, you'll need $10 for uncle
sam and $10 for overhead and expenses (including the biggest
expense, downtime).

5) To figure out what they were paying for you previously, take
your yearly salary and divide by 2000 to get your hourly (i.e.
if you were being paid $50,000/year your hourly would be
$25/hour). Now multiply by 1.5 to 2.0 to factor in the
administrative, tax and facilities overhead.

(*) The rules vary by state, but remember that the unemployment people
*want* you to be working and getting paid, even if it sometimes seems
the rules are strucured to prevent just that.

In my state (Pennsylvania), the normal procedure was (last I
looked) that you would notify the unemployment office when you get
paid for a 1099 contract. They divide your weekly unemployment amount
by the amount of the contract, and suspend your unemployment checks
for that many weeks. This also extends your eligibility for
unemployment by the same number of weeks.

Ask the unemployment office folks for advice. Remember that
they're human, just like you, and they probably *like* to help people
and *like* to feel good about what they do, just like you. Be patient
and professional; remember they have a lot of work in front of them
and it's never going to be "finished". Every day they deal with an
endless stream of people who are either in shock over losing their
jobs or lost to apathy about ever getting another job. Present
yourself as professional, competent and "on the ball" and they'll go
the extra mile for you.

> That was at 5:30 PM. When I got home at 7:00 and looked at the mail,
> I found the estimate for car repairs from my close encounter with the
> deer---$5200+change. Thank <insert Deityname> for a good insurance
> company with a reasonable adjustor and a dynamite local agent.

Remember, unemployment is not a handout, it is insurance. You
paid the premiums (your employer did, and don't think it wasn't a
factor in determining how much to pay you and whether or not to
"reclassify" you). Now you collect. If nothing else, collect to
make your former employers' rates go up :-).

Good luck!

Steven J. Owens
puff -at- guild -dot- net


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