What is a Contract-to-Hire Job and How Does it Work?

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Companies often use contract-to-hire jobs to hire top talent without an upfront cost. The company receives its expert’s work product but can opt-out at any time with minimal risk (no long-term commitment). This process offers a win for both parties involved.

Contract to hire positions are becoming more popular in today’s job market. A contract-to-hire position is advantageous because the employer can evaluate the employee before committing to them. These agreements also give employees flexibility in employment prospects if they are not offered a permanent position after the contract expires.

There is a lot to know about these employment arrangements, including salary negotiation, the contract-to-hire agreement, and advantages and disadvantages for employers and employees. We will cover these topics in this article.

What is a Contract-to-Hire Job?

A contract-to-hire job is an agreement between an employer and a contract worker. The contract establishes that the employee must complete specific tasks under the contract. Once the contract expires, the contract worker is free to find employment elsewhere without penalty or obligation.

contract-to-hire job

If the contract-to-hire position has been successful for both parties, the employer may offer a permanent contract. If, however, the agreement ends without a contract extension in place, there is no contractual obligation for either party to continue employment in this arrangement.

Who Uses Contract-to-Hire Agreements?

Contract-to hire agreements are used across all industries by companies of varying sizes interested in hiring contract workers. These agreements are used when a company would like to contract out the work of a particular expert yet is not ready to commit long-term. Because of the benefits of telecommuting, these contracts are quite common among businesses.

The contract worker might be:

  • a contract-to-hire worker
  • temporary contract worker
  • contract consultant
  • contract employee
  • contract agent

Contract-to-Hire Companies

Companies in all types of industry use these agreements. Many companies use contract-to-hire agreements. Some contract-to-hire companies are noted below:

Additionally, education and research institutions contract out contract workers. Many contract-to-hire agreements are used for special projects and assignments within a company or other organization.

What is the Contract-to-Hire Process?

The contract-to-hire contract process typically begins when an employee departs or decides to lay off workers. The hiring manager will be asked to provide a list of employees that are not critical to the business which can be laid off.

The contract-to-hire contract worker is then hired on a contract basis for several months or up to one year. Once the contract-to-hire contract period expires, the contract worker can choose to either continue or not.

contract to hire process

If they continue, this becomes a permanent job offer subject to prerequisites like employment verification and drug screening. However, the contract worker may decide to end the contract-to-hire contract and return to contract work.

Contract-to-Hire Agreement

The contract-to-hire agreement is a contract that allows companies to bring on contract workers for a limited period. This arrangement is a legal document that outlines the contract worker’s responsibilities to the company and spells out specific details.

  • The contract-to-hire contract is not a contract for an indefinite period but rather a temporary arrangement that can be ended at any point in time by either party.

This allows contract workers to have flexible employment options while allowing companies to bring in talented contract professionals without long-term commitments.

1. Contract Length

The standard length for a contract-to-hire contract arrangement is for a limited period. To protect both parties, contract-to-hire agreements typically last three months, six months, or a year.

The contract may be extended or renewed after this period if both parties agree that the arrangement continues to work well. However, most contract workers return to contract work at the end of a contract agreement.

2. Contract Workers and Benefits

When working on a contract-to-hire basis, many companies allow their contract employees access to benefits like paid vacation days and company discounts. This way, they can enjoy the benefits of permanent employment while still working as an independent contractor. Many contract professionals find this arrangement beneficial because it allows them flexibility without having full responsibilities of permanent employment.

Companies that offer contract-to-hire contract benefits to employees include:

  • General Motors: One-year contract-to-hire contract or more for all employees, for skills not found within the company.
  • Apple: Contract workers work on projects for six months to a year.
  • JetBlue: Employees contract workers must work a minimum of seven months before becoming permanent employees.

3. Contract-to-Hire Salary Negotiation

The agreement should include the contract worker’s salary and proposed terms. Since this contract is for a limited time, it is appropriate to have contract-to-hire contract workers paid hourly on an hourly basis or receive a lump sum payment for completing specific tasks.

If this is a multi-year contract-to-hire contract, the contract worker can negotiate benefits such as wage increases and life insurance. This makes sense only for the contract period and not for full-time employment after the contract expires.

4. Contract-to-Hire Salary Conversion

At the end of the contract, there may be an opportunity to convert contract-to-hire contract employment to full-time employment. If the contractor is initiating this, there are steps they should take. In writing, the contract worker must request the hiring manager to justify converting to a permanent employee.

Some reasons contractors convert to full-time employees are:

  • the contract-to-hire contract is ending.
  • contract worker has experience not available within the company.
  • contract workers’ contract renewal will cost more than hiring an employee for this work.

If a company agrees to convert a contract-to-hire contract into full-time employment, the contract worker can be hired. Negotiation will be required for full-time salary and benefits since contract-to-hire contract workers are typically paid less.

Most employees receive some retirement savings account or other benefits. If contract-to-hire contract workers are hired for full-time employment, the company will contribute to contract workers’ retirement accounts.

5. Termination Clause

The contract worker needs to be clear about their end of the contract-to-hire contract as well. For instance, they can include a clause that states the contract worker will work for the contract-to-hire contract period and only that.

A contract-to-hire contract can include details of what will happen if either party cancels the agreement before the contract-to-hire contract expires. The contract should also include any clauses that cover termination of contract workers’ employment during the contract-to-hire contract term.

Some of the things that may cause termination would include:

  • Absence of contract-to-hire contract worker from work without warning.
  • Violation of contract-to-hire contract rules, such as confidentiality clause.
  • Disciplinary actions for contract-to-hire contract workers due to poor performance or misconduct.

Sometimes non-disclosure agreements are included in a contract-to-hire contract for added security.

Advantages of Contract-to-Hire Agreements

pros of contract to hire jobs

There are many benefits for companies and employees to utilize contract-to-hire contract jobs. These are some of the advantages contract workers enjoy when contract-to-hire contract agreements are used:

1. Employment Flexibility

Employees do not have to deal with all the responsibilities involved in full-time employment but still have job security and access to benefits. Additionally, whether employers are looking for employees for remote work vs. work from home, a contract to hire job can satisfy both situations.

2. High Risk, Low Cost

This is a low-cost contract as contract workers are often paid hourly or a lump sum for contract-to-hire contracts. In some cases, contract workers cost less for the company’s bottom line.

3. Lower Taxes

Contractor work is not subject to federal income tax withholding and other payroll taxes. Companies don’t have to pay unemployment tax on contract-to-hire contract employees either.

4. Diverse Skill Availability

Contract-to-hire contract jobs have a much more comprehensive range of employees, including self-employed or retirees. There are many skills you need to be a freelancer to be successful. As such, there is a more diverse pool of skillset available.

5. Golden Opportunity

Contract workers may be contracted because full-time employment isn’t a good fit at the moment, but contract work is something they enjoy and would like to keep doing. They can work on a contract, then take time off after their contract-to-hire contract ends.

6. Get Your Foot In The Door

This contract-to-hire contract is the perfect way for contract workers to get their foot in the door of a company. New employees can receive training and experience without committing to full-time employment.

7. Family Support

Contract work is often helpful for contract workers who are caretakers (for elderly parents or children). These contract jobs can help pay bills, and the contract workers can reduce their time working to care for family members.

A contract worker can strongly benefit from contract work because it is an opportunity to gain more experience and skills that they can use towards their next full-time position.

Disadvantages of Contract-to-Hire Agreements

cons of contract to hire agreements

While these employment arrangements can be beneficial to both parties, they also can have drawbacks. Some contract worker disadvantages are:

1. No Retirement Account Contributions or Unemployment Benefits

If contract workers are not hired for full-time employment after the contract is complete, they may lack access to retirement plans and unemployment benefits.

2. Lack of Health Care Coverage

Contract work can be an area where contract workers have limited or no access to health care because contract workers do not have access to health care benefits, unemployment benefits, and federal tax refunds.

3. No Unemployment Benefits

Contract workers are not reimbursed for joblessness if the contract-to-hire contract is complete. So contract workers may find themselves doing contract work again in the future or looking for another contract-to hire contract job immediately after the contract-to-hire contract has ended

4. Lack of Protection

If a company breaches a contract by failing to pay a contract worker, the contract worker cannot simply sue the company for money owed. They must pursue small claims court remedies against the company rather than breach of contract remedies that would be available in an employment setting under normal circumstances.

5. Personal Liability

If a contract injures a third party while performing contract work, the contract worker may be personally liable. For example, contract workers who deliver goods or contract-to-hire agreements to serve clients are responsible for their acts and omissions. This means contract workers are not afforded the same protections as employees under state law.

6. No Stability

While contract work can be helpful for a contract worker to gain experience and move into full-time employment, contract workers may not have the same level of stability as regular employees.

Can You Quit a Contract-to-Hire Position?

It often depends on how your contract is written. In most circumstances, you can quit a contract-to-hire position at any time for any reason without penalty or further obligation. This is one of the top advantages of contract work over full-time employment. However, you should have a legal authority look at your contract to see if there are any penalties for early termination. Some people do rely on these types of positions as a way to survive as a freelancer between clients.

Related Questions:

Is contract-to-hire the same as limited-term?

No. Contract-to-hire agreements can be written for any length of time that the contract worker and company agree necessary. Limited-term agreements are set for a specific time period. For example, a contract-to-hire contract might be written as an indefinite contract (no end date). A limited-term contract would specify job seeker’s employment contract was good until October 2022.

What is the difference between contract to hire vs. direct hire?

Contract workers or employees. Direct hire means you’re employed by the company itself (instead of through a recruiting agency) without first signing a contract. Employees work for the company directly, whereas contractors work on a project basis as independent subcontractors. The main difference is that contract workers are not on the company’s payroll, and they do not have access to company benefits or discount schemes.

Is a contract-to-hire contract the same as a contract to sell?

No. A contract-to-hire contract is a specific type of contract. A contract worker is contracted with a hiring company for a period, usually three months to a year long. A contract-to-sell contract involves an agreement between a company and product vendor that requires products to be sold on pay after they’re delivered. Usually, the contract allows the company to try out products for a specific amount of time while paying only if they decide to keep them. If they do not want them anymore, they can return them at their cost during a specific timeframe defined by the agreement. In this case, both parties agree to cancel pay altogether if products are not accepted within the contract timeframe.

Are contractors 1099 employees?

No. 1099 contract workers are contract workers who work for various employers simultaneously via contract-to-hire arrangements or other contract-based agreements. They are hired on a project basis to work for clients directly, rather than being employed by one company.

Can I deduct my work expenses if I am a contract-to-hire contractor?

Yes. You may deduct contract work expenses from your taxable income as a contract worker if you qualify for home office deduction. Some examples of deductible expenses allowable are contracting software purchases, contract equipment costs to operate tools for contract job performance.

Are contractors W2 employees?

No. A W2 employee works for one company directly, whereas contract workers are hired to complete specific contract projects. W2 contract employees can be fired by their employer instantly for no reason but must give reasonable notice if they decide to quit contract work. Contract workers cannot receive company benefits or use company resources (e.g., office space).

Conclusion

Working on a contract-to-hire agreement is a great way to get your foot in the door if you are looking for work at a particular company. The contract will allow you to learn, contribute and prove yourself while being paid well for doing so. If the company enjoys your work, they may directly offer you a full-time contract or employment work. In any case, contract-to-hire contract workers have many benefits.

Many companies contract-to-hire contract workers to fill short-term positions. You can work at home for Amazon in some roles such as this. Other contract workers contract out their services indefinitely until they are offered full-time employment by the company they contract with. Either way, contract work allows for maximum flexibility for everyone involved.

As you can see, contract work offers an avenue for both skilled professionals and companies to explore new opportunities without making long-term commitments. If you decide to contract your services, be sure to read over your contract carefully. Make sure you fully understand all of the terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line.