Contractors' Questions: Should I start with no contract?

Contractor's Question: I'm not actually being given the contract I have been promised until I arrive at the client's office at the start date. I've seen this date, the contract terms and had them assessed for IR35. However it seems unprofessional that the client cannot post the contract to me in advance.

Although no contract until commencement seems the norm where I'm going, I am worried that I'll show up and won't have a 'leg to stand on' if the client denies all knowledge of my role, or if the client staff aren't informed about me. Is there any professional advice about what I should do to make things more business-like?

Expert's Answer : The important thing is that you have sight of the contract before you start the work. If you have not seen the contract or you are not given enough time to digest its contents, then you should not start work. In reality the time frame in which you are sent the contract will depend on the individual company that commissions you. However there is no harm in calling the relevant contact at the organisation and introducing yourself. This may be a good way of coming across professional and organised, as well as giving you the opportunity to ask if you could be sent the contract before you arrive to start work.

In terms of turning up and the staff not being informed, it may be wise to have full details of your contact at the office (i.e. Managing Director or Operations Director) with you on the first day. If the worst happens, you can easily introduce yourself and state, with evidence, the person who is expecting you. A member of the client's staff would then be able to call the person in question and confirm that you are expected to start work.

The expert was Ben Evans, of Lawdit Solicitors.

Friday 19th Feb 2010