There’s no way around this. As a contractor/freelancer my job is in no way safe even at the best of times. That’s why I command the obscene day rate I do. I can be dropped with a week’s notice. With a contract ending this month, I was put on notice that my client may not renew. And frankly in the days of Covid, why would they?
Straight-up, it’s clear Covid-19 has been an economic nightmare. Unless you have the type of job that allows you to sit at a desk and potentially WFH a day or two a week, there is a very good chance your job has been furloughed, if not nixed entirely.
I went into lock-down halfway through a contract with a financial client. They’re a stable, global financial multi-national, and certainly not going to have their bottom line hugely impacted by the virus. Or so I thought.
I was a month and a half into my third three month contract with them when the governments actioned lock-down was announced, but based on verbal confirmation, I could safely assume I’d be extended through July. That was until last week when I got a dreaded WhatsApp call from my manager.
Apparently because a number of big product launches and conferences my client was hosting were cancelled due to Covid, the CMO no longer felt she could justify my contract. What’s more, because we’re WFH until further notice, the face time that goes along with what I do (yes, it’s true – clients pay to see you – and their day rate – everyday) is no longer a thing.
Anywho – I was asked to list all the projects I had been working on to justify them keeping me. To be honest, I hate pleading a case to keep me to clients. It rarely goes well. Ultimately the way contractors justify our steep day rate is by allowing our clients to end our contracts with little to no notice.
Mostly the risk/benefit is worth it and in the two plus years I’ve worked for myself, I haven’t taken time off for extended periods of time without planning it well ahead. This strategy never accounted for a pandemic that would close the entire world at the same moment.
I started applying for new roles. Interestingly a few rejection emails came though. Most full-time role recruiters laughed at my salary expectations. All in all, a new role during lockdown was looking unlikely.
Then I started talking to Theo* about taking on “housewife” duties at first in jest, then more seriously. He was not keen and wanted me to keep working. Not because we were desperate for the money, but because he felt it would be better for me mentally. Okay, there goes being a lady of leisure.
Then I conceded to taking a few weeks off. I find the work I do for this client mostly unrewarding and annoying to wake up to and feign being busy for. So being done with it wouldn’t be the worst. But the loss of income. In a time when there would be no way to make it up elsewhere. That’s my biggest hang-up. It feels like failure. Yes, others have it way worse – specifically those in the food service, salon, ride-share and hospitality industries. I cannot even imagine what they’re going through. But it would still massively suck to find myself unceremoniously unemployed.
My mind was going into overdrive to wedge the possibility in that I may be on forced holiday as of next week. We’ll be fine. I’d paid my share of the rent through July anyway, we just couldn’t splurge of luxuries like the local organic grocer or Matchesfashion.
I had begun accepting this inevitability. Moments later that same day, in my weekly one-to-one with my manager, he casually dropped it in that my contract had been signed off until close to the end of summer.
So, that’s that. I have to go back to doing my day job, but needed to share that while it was still fresh.