Yesterday was a day of highs and lows. I’m at the tail end of the temporary job I’ve been working at trying to squeeze out one more week of PC refreshes before filing for unemployment and it wasn’t going too well. I had one appointment on Monday, nothing yesterday, and I have one today with nothing scheduled for the rest of the week. As I do every day, I scanned the job listings on the Michigan Works website, CareerBuilder.com, and Craigslist.
Found an ad on CL for a Desktop Support position in Brighton, which isn’t too far and which I’m already familiar with from having lived there in the past. So I sent off a resume with a short cover letter to the email address and went back to scanning for other possibilities. I’ve been doing this for months and I’m lucky if I ever get an email telling me to piss off, let alone a phone call, so you can imagine my excitement when the job on Craigslist called me a few hours later. I was told that they were hoping to fill the position quickly and that they thought I might be a good fit so could I be available to do a phone interview in about an hour or so. An hour later I was in a phone interview with the head of the project and the person who called me earlier. The job offered $19 an hour with no benefits, but it was a Monday-Friday gig with the potential for some overtime. The interview went well and they offered me the job right then and there with a start date of today. I asked if I could start tomorrow instead as I had some stuff to wrap up today and they agreed. Hanging up the phone, I was on cloud nine.
And then they emailed me the contract.
For the most part it’s the standard legal boilerplate I’ve seen throughout my career, but there were three provisions that concerned me. One was the standard if-you-invent-anything-we-own-it clause which is pretty standard practice, but this one seemed to suggest that they owned anything that might be copyrightable or patentable regardless of whether I did it at work or outside of work and it seemed to suggest that I would have to sign over rights to any copyrights or patents I already have which I’m not even sure is legal if that is indeed what it suggests. The next provision that worried me was about my being responsible for all business expenses which reads as follows:
The Contractor is responsible for paying for all expenses associated with providing the services hereunder. The Contractor will indemnify and hold the Company harmless from all expenses and costs incurred in the performance of this Agreement.
Now I’m assuming this is meant to say that I’m responsible for buying my own clothes and the gas to get back and forth to work, but I could also see where it could mean that if I have to replace a hard drive in the course of the job that I assume the costs of purchasing the replacement. I’ve replied back asking for clarification of these provisions so I know exactly what I’m agreeing to, but it’s the third one I’m worried about that may be the deal breaker and it’s pretty unambiguous:
No Withholding of Taxes, etc. The Contractor understands and agrees that, as an independent contractor, the Contractor’s compensation under this Agreement is not subject to withholding for federal, state, or social security taxes. All such taxes and other legally required payments and any insurance required by law shall be the Contractor’s sole responsibility.
I’ve been working as a contractor my entire career and this is the first time a company has said they won’t handle taking out taxes from my paycheck. I realize that for truly independent contractors that’s the way things work, but I’m not sure if I’m disciplined enough to do this task properly. As a result I’m leaning toward not taking the job which is really frustrating because it’s the first semi-decent paying offer I’ve had in awhile and the current job isn’t likely to have any more work for me until sometime in December.
For the moment I’m waiting to hear back from the company with answers to my questions about the contract and then I’ll make my decision. I hate to turn down a job that sounds like it’s a good fit for me and my skills, but I’d hate ending up in trouble with the IRS because I screwed up my taxes. Plus the idea of having to potentially turn over my blog to them is also somewhat disheartening.