"The Contractors' Handbook"
by Dave Chaplin
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 13th January 2011Describing itself as "The Expert Guide for UK Contractors and Freelancers", Dave Chaplin's book is a detailed and comprehensive overview of how to operate as a contractor in the UK market (with a nod to overseas contracting towards the end of the book). It covers a lot of ground from the basics through to quite complicated topics such as contract law, and draws directly on the author's own experiences as an IT contractor.
The book begins with an overview of contracting for first-timers and those still considering a move from permanent to contract work, with detailed advice on setting rates and how to find and secure contracts. While aimed primarily at contractors, some of the information on CVs, interviews and working with recruiters could be equally applicable to the permanent job market. Subsequent sections are devoted to the trading vehicles available to contract workers, and the associated legal and financial issues (most significantly the IR35 tax legislation, which essentially determines whether a contractor is considered to be self-employed or a "disguised employee", and taxed accordingly). It also covers handling common problems, and managing personal finance, professional insurance and time off - all of which are very different for the contractor compared with permanent employment.
As the title indicates this book is very much a handbook, and the amount of detail is almost overwhelming on first reading (particularly with regard to IR35). However the information is clear and well-presented, and the contents are well laid out so it's quite easy to find the relevant chapter or section (and making up for the missing index) - so I can imagine "The Contractors' Handbook" becoming an invaluable reference over time.