Saturday, September 30, 2006

Contracting Vs. Permanent Employment

Came across this interesting post which was trying to compare the difference between permanent and contract positions. Where.Deers.&.Antelopes.Play It is a post that has started a very diverse discussion from different view points. What triggered me to write this post was because I was also once a contractor and I faced a few issues by virtue of being a contractor, especially in the case where I needed to raise some capitol from banks.

In Sri Lanka, no bank will ever lend you any money if you are a contractor. They seem to have taken the notion that permanent jobs are forever and contract jobs are temporary. I guess what they have not realized is the fact that no job is permanent, whether it is contract or permanent.

When I took up that particular post, I had no hesitations on taking up a contractual position as I had confidence on my self. I was confident of being able to get a renewal at the end of the term. I always believed in giving back my worth to the company that work. If I feel I am not doing my worth, I get worried before anyone else does.

So for me it was not much of a differentiator. What I was more interested in was the challenge and the environment. I was more concerned about delivering what was expected out of my, because one thing that I cannot bear, is being a failure in my own eyes.

But in general I think the environment also has to adopt to be more flexible towards contractors, specially in Sri Lanka. If the banking system shuts down contractors from basic needs such as getting a housing loan, car loan etc, then that is going to force some people to seek permanent jobs. This will create an undue demand for permanent jobs as well as makes it harder for companies to fill short term man power usages through contracting.

A lot of contract staff in Sri Lanka tend to work for foreign companies. This practice is adopted by these foreign companies to stay more flexible because of old labour laws that are in place, which makes it almost impossible for a company to fire an employee, unless that person commits some serious crime. So in order to not to get locked into carrying un-necessary luggage they prefer to get people on contract.

If the government wants to promote foreign investment, they will have to work on bringing in legitimacy to the contract workers, by amending laws that would ensure that they are treated in the same level as the permanent employees. If this is done, I think eventually Sri Lanka will also have a talented pool of contractors who will be able to quickly move in to a job and fulfil the requirements. This will also enable the companies to be more agile as they will have flexible access to talent; proven and exposed talent. People who are exposed to new technologies and more diverse situations, thus providing solutions that are proven and tested, avoiding the invention of the wheel over and over again.

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