Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Contractors Christmas

Well, good news folks; I will still be gainfully employed past January first.

Ahhh the joys of being an independent contractor eh?

For those of you who haven't been following along, lemme splain:

I started on my current contract-to-hire position in May of 2006.

Department of labor guidelines, as well as California state employment regs (I work in AZ, for a CA compny) state that anyone who remains a contractor for more than two years must be accounted for, and offered benefits as, a full time employee.

The policy of the company is that no contractor can be retained beyond 18 months without either converting to full time permanent status; or without a special exemption at the VP level to extend to 24 months. Additionally, after contracting for 18 months, a contractor cannot then return to the company on another contract for six months.

Now, here's the fun bit. I am chief architect of my line of business. I report to the service delivery manager (VP) for the line of business, who reports to the SVP for all IT, who reports to the Chief Operating Officer. Basically, three guys between me and the CEO (actually, two men and a woman). When my new SDM started (about a month ago), his very first question on staffing was "What the hell is this guy doing as a contractor, we shouldn't have people at this level who aren't full time".

Well, that's a funny story really...

See, I was hired on as six month contract to hire; which is pretty standard. They've been trying to hire me since my first six months, but here's the problem: In the 19 months since I've been working there, they've had three major re-orgs, and I've had five bosses; including reporting directly to the SVP over all IT two different times (and to two different people). The nature of bureaucracy being what it is, without a solid boss, the conversion couldn't be pushed through; so I just kept getting contract extensions.

Now under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have been able to extend past this November; but my group lead (all the chief architects used to be in one group for administrative purposes - now were aligned with our line of business directly- My lead is chief architect for one of the other lines of business. He is technically my organizational peer not my boss, but he does most of the adminsitrative stuff, except signoffs and reviews) was able to get me extended through the end of the year at my last contract extension in May.

So as days have run short; I've been getting a bit nervous. Some planned purchases have been put off; and I had to skip a good friends wedding, because it would have cost me about two grand to go, and we needed to hold on to that money in case I went without income for a month or two (I've already got a couple other contracts lined up in case this one dumped out; but there's always a little transition time).

This is also one of the major reasons why I haven't been writing much lately by the by. Pressing concerns and all that.

Anyway, my group lead has been working on getting me converted this whole time; and with the last re-org which started in August, it looked like we would be able to do it.


Most of the re-org happened all at once, but a few areas were done on a rolling basis, including ours. Or previous management chain all the way up to the COO "left to pursue other opportunities", and a new COO and SVP were named then

Unfortunately, our new VP wasn't named until a little less than a month ago. We've been operating without management... well, honestly, since August of 2006 (one of the reasons why our whole reporting chain were terminated), but officially since August of '07.

Anyway, the new guy is pretty good. We see eye to eye on a lot of things, and he understands my value to the organization (and the disruption that would be caused if I left); but it takes at least 60 days to get someone converted, and that 60 days cannot cross the year boundary for budgetary reasons (signatures have to be for the year in which it happens).

... and I'm already over limit on my contract...

Uh oh.

Here's where the REALLY fun part begins.

I was going through my contract details as recorded in the contractor tracking system (the company has over 50,000 contractors, yes, they need a system), and I noticed something peculiar...

In September of 2006, they changed the way they were tracking my contract. Instead of direct billing through my contracting company, they changed the billing and processing to go through a contract services company (they aggregate a bunch of different contract billing and management into one monthly bill, so the company doesn't have to track 50,000 separate contracts ).

Turns out, when they did that, they reset the timer on my contract; so I'm good through at least March, and they're trying to get it approved through June. Not only that, but my new VP has made it clear that his top personnel priority after Jan 1 is to get me (and three other long term contractors) hired on full time.

So yay, income for at least another few months, and possibly a permanent position with bennies... Hell, I'd actually be able to take a vacation. I haven't had a real vacation, that wasn't either a family visit or a shooting event, since 2003... and before that it was 1997.