I've been contracting exclusively with the same company for a few years now with the same rate, so an raise is overdue. This has been already communicated to the company by a third agent (who takes care of this negotiations for me) and I'm currently waiting on a decision which should happen in the next months (The company is reeeealy slow when it comes to this things, that's not such an issue for me).

Right now, there's a big project in the company taking place, it would be almost suicidal for this project to let me go at this point. I'm also paid above average in the company, but I have a very good reputation for the quality of my work.

The trick is: I currently work a total of 40-45 hours a week and would prefer to reduce it to 30 so I can focus on other projects, i.e., contract with other companies as well, learn new skills... So, I'm not sure how to play this. Should I:

  • Come forward about this before the decision takes place, making it look like "Because it's taking you so long to decide on my rates (it'll be up to 9 months totally), I'm afraid I can no longer work full time and need to consider alternatives". Not precisely with this wording, but something along those lines.
  • OR: wait until they approve a rate, which will be (I guess) less than I asked for, and go like "For this rate, I'm afraid I can only work a max of 30 hours", somehow pretending is their fault.

It wouldn't be hard for me to find another job and I've saved enough so I don't need to work right away, but this is overall a good job and the prefered outcome is to work less hours with a small raise. How should I play this?

Clarification I charge per hour, so I wouldn't be demanding more money for less work, the total would end up probably being less that then pay now each month. The raise is due in any case, if they're not willing to increase the rate at all, then it's over. The point is, given a raise is coming, and I (secretly) want to actually work less hours, should I bring it up before or after the come up with the updated rate? I know it sounds pretentious from my side, but I'm right now in a very good position to make this happen and management here has a history of just reacting if you're though on them.

  • 3
    Going in with force (threats, actual or perceived) using phrases like I'm afraid I can no longer work is a matter of last resort. Avoid that if you want to keep working for them.
    – user8036
    Aug 30, 2016 at 8:03
  • "I've been contracting exclusively with the same company for a few years now with the same rate, so an raise is overdue." - in lots of companies, contractors don't get raises. Aug 30, 2016 at 13:54
  • If you're going to make it in this industry, you have to be able to learn new technologies while working a full-time job. Keep your total contract hours under 50, and you'll have time.
    – user8365
    Aug 30, 2016 at 18:12
  • @JeffO, which industry do you thing I work for? I haven't mentioned it on the question
    – Wiedl
    Aug 31, 2016 at 7:08
  • Industry doesn't really matter. I guess if you were in academia, you could take a sabbatical of some sort, but most professional industries expect you to have developed enough of a foundation and have the ability to learn on the job.
    – user8365
    Sep 2, 2016 at 15:08

3 Answers 3


If you use threats, or implied threats, you will both damage your reputation, and ensure that your current employer removes you from all key roles.

Unless you can demonstrate a clear value to your current client in providing more money for less service, there is no way to do what you wish.

No company is going to be happy with you wanting to do less work for them so you can work for other companies, so keep that part quiet.

Do a little bit of rubber duck justification https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubber_duck_debugging before explaining to your client why you're worth more money for less hours.

If you can't make a convincing case to the duck, you may need to rethink your position.

  • Funny, I knew about the rubber duck but never thought of it for this use, will have a talk with him, thanks! Added a clarification to the question, I actually wouldn't earn more for less, the raise is due because of , let's say inflation (Has been the same for 4 years)
    – Wiedl
    Aug 30, 2016 at 13:37
  • 1
    I doubt even the rubber duck would give you more money for less hours ... he'd have to be 'quackers' ;-)
    – Time4Tea
    Aug 11, 2018 at 19:59

I've been consulting for +15 years. I'd never ask for fewer hours on a critical project. That sounds like you don't really care if the project is successful. In addition, asking for more money would just pour salt on the open wound.

Put yourself in their position. Under what circumstances would you keep somebody that asked for more money to do less work? Likely only if you were forced to do so.

How would you respond? I would look for other resources to complete the work. I would look to replace the person that was part-time unless I didn't need full-time help.

I ask for more money when I know I am undervalued or when costs have increased significantly. I time when I ask for more money when I know that they can afford to pay more. I give my clients three to six months notice that I'm raising my rates. I also let them know that I charge everyone the same, so they don't feel like they are being taken advantage of.


It seems your negotiation position is all-or-none. Either you get more money and less hours, or you quit.

There is a middle ground, which company, who seems to like you, might offer: transition into less hours / more money. If you care about this workplace, you might propose it first:

Hi, i really like you guys and would like to keep working, but also put more time in personal matters (Doesn't matter if it's carpentry or stock trading/contracting somewhere else). Ideally, I would like to work 30 hrs at that rate, but we can discuss transition plan, because I know that early stage of project is most critical.

I personally think you'll have to give up something because of:

  • negotiating after negotiating (ask for more $, then ask for less hours, not at the same time)
  • working in a company that treats you well (Even if you can find job easily, will it be as comfortable environment? Would you trade StackExchange job for more money at Initech?)

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