Today we look at your contract and the issues involved in ensuring that the agreement you signed is fair and equitable. Thanks to the Independent Contractors Australia we have been able to provide some valuable insights into this subject.
How much would it cost you if you lost everything on your computer? Accordingly, we take a look at the importance of protecting your computer and related data 'assets' by ensuring proper risk assessments are undertaken, adequate backup strategies are deployed and suitable anti-virus protections are put in place.
We also test drive some free mind mapping software, FreeMind which provides excellent support for developing those diagrammatic mind maps which help us view our world in new and exciting ways.
And lastly, we chance our hand at that vexed question of whether 'I should or shouldn't' have workers compensation insurance. This is a real mind bender but worth the effort.
Thank you one and all for your support during 2010. We hope you've had a relaxing Xmas and would like wish you and your family a happy, healthy and successful 2011.
It´s hard enough to find work in the first place so when the contract comes along we tend not to give it as much attention as we otherwise should. The Independent Contractors Australia, an independent association who fight for the rights of 'free and independent contractors' have published a template which provides an overview of clauses that should be in a proper contract.
When considering your next contract take a look at this template to help you evaluate the fairness of the agreement. Click here to download. For those who are members, in addition to the template the association also provides you an overview of what they term red, amber and green clauses that are dangerous, require caution or are safe to proceed with respectively. We strongly advise that you invest the $55 necessary to become a member of the association and help them fight for your rights. Click here for membership information.
How much of your value as a freelancer or independent contractor is associated with information you have on your computer/s. A good way to answer this question is to image the worst and consider what happens if you were to lose all your computers in one go. How would you continue to run your business? How would you recover?
How long would it take you? Can you recover at all or would you have to start again? It is so easy to underestimate the 'wealth' we have tied up on our hard disks. A recent example bought this issue to mind. A friend of mine is a lecturer and lost her hard disk; it crashed. Worse still she had no strategy in place to protect the valuable data stored. She lost years of prepared lectures and related resource material. Luckily and at great expense, she was able to send the disk to a technical specialist who was able to recover most of the lost information.
As a Xmas present to yourself we strongly recommend that you take this year-end opportunity to review your IT Risk and take assertive action. I can assure you it's much cheaper than losing the lot or paying an expert vast amounts to recover it for you.
So what to do?
1) Undertake a Risk Assessment. Studies show that the average cost to micro-business of catastrophic down time is $30,000. 30% had no backup strategies in place. Symantec provides a free Risk Assessment tool that can help you determine your exposure. Click here to evaluate your risk.
2) Ensure that you have a back-up strategy for your computers, iPads, and any other information where you are storing data. Click here for a Microsoft discussion paper on the subject. It is also worth noting that using products like Dropbox (see October 10 Newsletter) provide and excellent mechanism for backing up and keeping synchronised business critical data.
3) Update your Security Software. Running outdated or inadequate security software can open the door for hackers to access your computer network. Their target is generally financial and customer information which they use for indentify theft and monetary gain with the cost to your business being considerable. New virus attacks are being released daily so it's important to have the virus software update itself at regular intervals. In this way you'll be able to stay ahead of the game. Click here to try Symantec's Free Security check of your computer/s that provides a report on the current vulnerability of your system and any virus that may be present.
Mind Mapping is an important business tool that allows you to randomly dump ideas and concepts around a particular issue and then to organise them into groups or clusters providing new insights and interpretations.
Via the free FreeMind software, you can generate diagrammatic mind maps representing words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and organise information.
By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, mind maps encourage a brainstorming approach to planning and organizational tasks.
For a free copy of FreeMind click here.
Workers Compensation Insurance is an easy and simple mechanism which protects you financially against the unfortunate event of workplace injuries, including going to and from work.
This is one of the most common and difficult questions to answer. The reason that this is such a complex issue is twofold. The first issue relates to your status as an independent contractor ('contract for service' verses 'contract of service'). Please click here for more information on what the difference is. The second issue is the notion of 'deemed Worker'. Many employment relationships are not standard and irrespective of what your tax status or contractual status might be; some workers, for workers compensation purposes, are also classified as deemed workers. These classes of 'deemed workers' automatically fall under the employer's policy and include, but are not limited to:
- salespersons, canvassers, and collectors
- contractors under labour hire service arrangements
To work out what your insurance status should be ask yourself the following:
1. Am I working via a company or sole tradership?
2. Am I allowed to employ staff in order to honour my contract if necessary?
3. Do I get paid on completion or delivery of the project for which I was hired, and
4. Does my contract require me to have my own Workers Compensation Policy?
If you answer 'no' to any of the following, then chances are you will be covered by the workers compensation policy of the hirer, but do speak to an expert.
It is important to make sure you address this issue by discussing it directly with your hirer and also by liaising with the Work Cover Authority who may be contacted in NSW on 13 10 50 or click here to try their online evaluation tool. Note that WorkCover is a State managed service so make sure you check with the relevant Authority in your State.
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