I'm a contractor (UK) who's been with a client a couple of year. I'm the only, and very experienced, software developer on a particular high profile project.

The client has hired someone new to software development for the project. Their only experience is a 3 month course. So I'm onboarding them to the project and assigning them things to do, but inevitably I'm training them in how to dev in a certain technology they've never done before - I'm the only one here who knows it. (And also teaching them about development in general.)

My contract doesn't say anything about training but here I am, effectively training someone, because inevitably even simple work needs lots of to-ing and fro-ing, I have to tell them how to do something, etc. I'm not very happy about this. And I'm the only person who can give them feedback about how they're doing at development in a wider scope, but I'm not the person to do that (I can't do anything like line-management; not in my contract, and see 'part and parcel', IR35 etc.)

If training someone were part of the contract, and negotiated as such, that would be a different matter.

What are my options at this point? My contract is up for renewal in not too long. Obviously I can't demand this guy is not on the project, but leaving the project doesn't feel great either. Re-negotiating any new contract sounds like a good way forewards.

  • Would you have charged more money to train someone? If not, then what's the problem? – HorusKol Jul 30 '20 at 15:33

The first thing I'd do is look at whether having to essentially teach software development to this new starter is measurably impacting the completion of your actual assigned work. If there's a measurable impact to delivery schedules, you can take that to your manager and let them know that there's a situation that needs to be addressed. They can look at assigning work more appropriately, or maybe finding someone to help out with the training aspect.

It sounds like you don't enjoy having to teach/coach, which is totally fine - but you've also said that there's nobody else available to give feedback on their learning. That would lead me to think that the higher-ups either assumed that you'd be up for taking on a mentor role, or they assumed the new starter knew more than they actually do. That's also a discussion with your manager - what are their expectations of you in this situation?

If they state specifically that they're expecting you to train the new starter (whether that's to eventually replace you, or just to get another dev on the team), that gives you a base to renegotiate your contract from. If they're firm on needing you to be a teacher but you'd prefer not to, either ask for more money/perks to 'make up for it', or consider whether you're really interested in working there.

  • Thanks for your thoughts. I do actually enjoy teaching/mentoring, but not from the ground level day 1; not if it’s not explicitly what I am contracted to do. And yes, higher ups just assumed it would be ok. First I heard of the new start was from a random person in an email. – J Bramble Jul 30 '20 at 8:19
  • @JBramble Yeah definitely understand that, there's a difference between helping a junior dev and helping someone who can barely write a line of code. I'd be curious to find out whether the new hire is a relative/friend of someone higher up in the organisation who helped the get the job without much experience - it probably shouldn't change how you treat them, but maybe it'd influence how you phrase comments about their abilities when discussing the problem. – Kayndarr Jul 30 '20 at 8:25
  • Interesting point shoot the nepotism angle! I don’t believe that to be the case. – J Bramble Jul 30 '20 at 8:30
  • One thing I didn’t mention: part of my frustration is that I cannot be there person giving higher level feedback - I am not their manager - but some needs giving. Mainly that the person needs to pay attention to details and read everything carefully. But I can’t give that. – J Bramble Jul 30 '20 at 8:31

Do you get paid the same for training this person as you do for any other work for this client?

IMO, this is more an issue of personal wants/needs then it is about your contract. My contracts with my clients state that I perform work on their behalf and at their behest. They hired me for my 20+ years of IT experience. If they ask me to perform other duties, that's their prerogative. It's their money. They're paying me the same rate no matter what they ask me to do. Sometimes they need me to deliver computer equipment to a customer because nobody else is available to do it. Is that the best way for them to spend the money they're paying me? It isn't, but it's their choice. If they want to pay me to drive in my car to deliver a printer to a customer then I'm happy to do it.

They're saying "This is what we need from you right now", and my job is to serve their needs, not my own.

So, is this really an issue about what's in the contract or is this an issue of you just not wanting to train other people as part of your daily duties? If you don't want to train other people, that's fine, you get to choose what it is you do for a living. The client is telling you "This is what we need from you right now". It's up to you whether or not you want to do that. If you don't want to do it then simply tell the client that. You'll risk losing them if they feel the need to replace you with someone who will serve their needs, but that risk is yours to take and the decision is yours to make.

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    I'd be wary of a contract that said "I will do whatever the client directs me to do". That's sounding like part and parcel and permanent employment, and the sort of thing HMRC would use to argue you are within IR35. The more specific your duties in your contract, the clearer it is that you're not an employee. – occulus Jul 30 '20 at 21:35
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    For example: "Sometimes they need me to deliver computer equipment to a customer because nobody else is available to do it." -- to me that pretty clearly marks you as an employee, not a contractor. – occulus Jul 30 '20 at 21:44

If you have a limited company, consider hiring him, paying his salary, and charging the company for it. Fixes IR35 problems, and I think you can save £2,000 on NI payments.

  • Nice idea, but likely impossible. If the OP's end client hires a new employee, then I don't see how the OP can poach them without there being some kind of consequences. – numenor Aug 3 '20 at 12:37
  • It wouldn’t be poaching - it would have to be agreed between all sides. – gnasher729 Aug 4 '20 at 13:35

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