Thirty Thousand Streets

Friday, November 30, 2007

'Free' Lance

I'm a bit weary of work at the minute ("aren't we all? I imagine you're thinking") and getting quite cynical about it all. Three years in the freelance game, and at the minute, I'm often increasingly frustrated – a situation I've got to reverse if I'm going to carry on labouring in this industry.

One of the things I've become accustomed to, yet increasingly irritated by, it must be said, are employers who quibble about paying overtime to freelancers.

Yesterday I was working at a medium sized ad agency, helping on pitch work to retain an existing client. I worked over my eight standard hours, and so by the standard terms set out by the recruitment consultants who arranged the booking, was entitled to pay at the rate of time and a half.

It was only half an hour anyway, but when the time came for me to get my timesheet signed, the studio manager announced that "we don't pay time and a half".

This pissed me off. Firstly because the recruitment consultants who set the gig up should have made these terms clear to me, but primarily because I think it is incredibly remiss of a medium sized ad agency to refuse to pay freelancers their dues once thy've worked over a standard day, because that's the way it works, y'know?.

In general freelancers often have to spend a great deal of time running round tying up loose ends and having to do the dirty work the full-timers don't want to touch. Often, you're stuck on the grouchy G4 in the corner none of the designers will use. Often you're just treated like a human status bar, to be fed a stack of work to drill though gradually, like a rat through concrete.

So whatever. No-one ever said it was going to be easy. But the payoff for all this is (or should definitely be) that you're paid your dues at the end of the day, and your efforts are rewarded with commeasurate amounts of the folding stuff. Because often, you don't know where the next gig is coming from. It's a given that full time employers in the design industry on a salary work long hours overtime, unpaid, and those are the breaks; thats's how the industry functions. But it's different for freelancers and if – as in this case – you're a decent sized advertising agency with an enviable client list, you should honour this difference out of simple professionalism, as much as anything.

And funnily enough actually, it is quite often the large-ish ad agencies who refuse to play the game on this one. And while of course it would be naive to assume the advertising industry is exactly afroth with the milk of human kindness, it rankles that a communications agency with plush West End offices, who are obviously doing very well for themselves thank you very much, gripe when it comes to paying up.

Of course there's always the argument that this is an effort to stop agencies haemmoraging unnecessary funds on contracters, but in this case the onus is on the agency, and its planners, to ensure they are more organised in this respect.

Anyway. If I've got any kind of grit I might endevavour to not work there in future. But who knows, I may have to.

In principle though, my sentiment remains: "pay the hell up, bitch!"


Tracknkern said...

I know how you feel. I had a agency once dispute 15mins on my time sheet.

Saying I left at 6.30 and not 6.45. I laughed at them and basically told the recruiters not to send me there again.

That is one good thing about being a freelancer, if you don't like them you can tell them where to go as there will always be work on offer somewhere else.

The Eyechild said...

Yeah it's true, and that is one of the perks of freelance. If you disagree, you can vote with your feet.

The Eyechild said...

Though come to think of it, they did give me a mini tube of pringles at around four o'clock... actually, what am I bitching about..