The old ‘job for life’ model may be rare these days, but the vast majority of workers in Britain are still in permanent employment. This means there’s no end-date to the contract and the employee is, in theory, in the job until he or she leaves or retires. Permanent work can be full or part time, and it can include shift work or flexible working.
As a permanent employee you get more job security, a regular routine and a predictable income that allows you to budget, save and plan for retirement. You’ll have a right to paid holidays and sick leave. Tax, national insurance and pension contributions will usually be handled by your employer on your behalf. It’s often easier to get a mortgage and make other long term plans when you have a permanent job.
Permanent work protects employers as well as employees, however. You’ll have to give notice if you want to leave, and the period may be longer than the statutory minimum if it’s written into your contract.
As a contractor, you’ll need to manage more than just your budget. You may have to keep accounts and handle tax - though you can hire an accountant to do some of this work for you. It will also help if you like interviews, as you’ll need to ‘win’ work much more often than you would as a permanent employee. For the same reason, you’ll need a good CV.
As you’d expect, there’s a great deal of employment law applying to permanent work. Here are some of the key points that you need to know.
Whereas statutory rights are required by law and apply to everyone - allowing for qualifying periods and conditions - contractual rights depend on the agreement between the employer and the employee. They can be unique or specific to your contract, or they might apply to everyone in the organisation.
Contractual rights might cover extra holidays, certain pension benefits or additional maternity pay above the required level. They cannot be used to override statutory benefits unless you agree in writing - in other words, your contract can give you extra rights, but it can’t take them away without your consent.