Re: Ethics of Jumping To Another Contract Job

Subject: Re: Ethics of Jumping To Another Contract Job
From: "Technical Writer" <tekwrytr -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2007 12:13:40 -0400

The bottom line is that most contracts are explicitly "employment at will,"
not social obligations. That means either party can negate the contract, the
primary consideration being "reasonable notice" to the other party. To
believe that being hired for a six-month contract is an absolute guarantee
of six month's of employment is naive; the contractor is employing you,
using a "contract relationship" to skirt around the niceties of employment
legislation. Good for the contractor, not so good for you.

The majority of "contract" positions are essentially temp jobs, and are much
more usefully viewed as such. If the employer wants assurance that you will
be available to work at the specified price for a specific term, all that is
necessary is to provide a bonus at the end of the term. When you complete
the "contract," you are given the bonus. If you bail before the end of the
period, you don't get the bonus. Simple stuff, no confusion, everyone
understands his or her obligation, and no one debates whether taking a
better temp job is "ethical."

If you are an employee disguised as an independent contractor, there is
little need to agonize over the ethical implications; if you are offered a
better job, give "reasonable notice" and take it. Because you are little
more than an employee (reporting for work at Place A five or six days a week
at Time B to work diligently until Time C or later), your obligations are
substantially different than if you were a "real" contractor.

The constraints of contracting inappropriately applied to an
employer-employee relationship (whether condoned by the IRS or not) are
nearly always to the benefit of the employer/contractor. The strongest of
those constraints (and the most illusory) is that accepting a gig of a
specific duration somehow forces you to remain with the employer for that
period, like some type of trial marriage. That is simply not true; you are
under no more of an obligation to remain an employee-"contractor" for that
period of time than the employer-"contractor" is obligated to provide
guaranteed employment for that period of time.

The exception would be a "real" contract relationship, in which the various
obligations would be made explicit, and the issue of whether or not a
particular action was "ethical" would be irrelevant.
John Traynor
Specializing in the Design, Development, and Production of:
Enterprise Websites - Online Content - Technical Documentation



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