The Great Debate: Contract vs. Permanent Employment

The Great Debate: Contract vs. Permanent Employment

The Tinder of Modern Day Employment

The nature of employment has changed drastically over the past few decades with more and more people seeing the mutual advantages of independent contract or freelance work than ever before. Gone are the days of solid commitment, where an individual would live out his or her professional life sentence before sailing off into the sunsets of retirement. As humanity evolves, so does the job market, with employees and employers looking for more freedom and diversity in their career paths. 

In South Africa, a permanent job is usually seen as a sign of stability and safety. Like a marriage, two individuals go into a partnership for better or worse, legally bound to one another until death or insolvency do them part. It takes a serious level of commitment for any individual to remain loyal to one company for the full duration of their career, especially in a cut throat business environment plagued with headhunters. While the permanent employee can safely enjoy the perks of benefits, regular bonuses and other legal loyalties, some are often left wondering about the road less traveled. 

Contract or Freelance workers on the other hand can be seen as the Tinder of employment – an endless variety of options, left and right, requiring less long-term commitment. A freelancer is free to flirt with as many career options as they please, developing new skills and essentially more “game” in their respective field, while enjoying some of the same benefits as their permanent counterparts – UIF, sick leave and general leave days. Of course the lack of job security can be overwhelming at times but with a bit of financial planning and side hustle mentality, the life of a contractor is far more appealing to today’s modern day employment market.

Employers with Benefits:   

The attraction towards contract workers is definitely growing, with more South African companies seduced by the idea of independent contract employment. One of the biggest expenses to a company is human resources, not only from a remuneration perspective but also from a time and training perspective. In a recent MIE survey, “one in five South African employees failed background checks” with discrepancies such as bad debt, criminal records and false qualifications. The employment of contract workers means more control from a monitoring, productivity and safety perspective.  

A flexible work contract also means less commitment for employers. If a contractor is underperforming, the employer can terminate the contract as per the agreed terms without the ordeal of disciplinary reviews and the painful administration that goes along with permanent pre-nups. The South African Labour Law is particularly pedantic about fixed work contracts, with high penalties for companies that step one toe out of line. The damage control from CCMA cases can also be quite harmful to a company’s reputation, even when they are not at fault.  

More Benefits: 

Skills: Besides the obvious flexibility of the contractor lifestyle, there is also more time and room to develop and enhance new and existing skills. While a jack of all trades is essentially a master of none, a freelancer may be able to cover more tasks than required due to their exposure to a variety of disciplines throughout his or her career.

Networking and Industry Insights: Unless a confidentiality agreement or NDA has been requested, a contractor is usually exempt from restraint of trade clauses. Naturally, it’s in the best interest of any free agent to retain high ethical standards, but the wealth of knowledge accumulated through the exposure of networking with competitors can be highly advantageous to companies, offering fresh perspectives within a similar industry.

Kwena Human Capital: The Match-Maker 

Whether you’re looking for a long-term permanent placement or something slightly more flexible, our staff and employment agency will find the right fit. 

Kwena Human Capital and Kwena Offshore are looking to fulfil some exciting new contract positions. View our latest positions below or apply online on our recruitment job portal for more information: