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I am looking for a job and I am based in Europe. After a successful application to a US based company, and a chat with the owners in which we talked about perks, full time permanent employment, etc. for a remote work position I received a job contract that was not what I expected.

It is a contractor role, per hour, renewable every semester, without any of the rights I'd expect such as sickness or holiday pay, and not even a guarantee on the amount of hours I'd be employed.

I have no intention of taking this offer unless it's way more favorable to me, and this is not a standard offer for the company. It is a remote first company with many US based, normally employed persons.

What I would like to know is if this kind of contract is the best I can expect for a US-to-Europe remote position, and if not, some advice on how to negotiate a normal employment contract instead.

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    You're from Europe. Europe has pretty strict labor laws. What you're describing (no benefits, no leave, no sick pay, no holidays, no PTO, can be fired at will) is standard for "normal employment contracts" in the US. They've offered you this as a way to circumvent european labor law regulations that require higher standards for full time employees. – Magisch Mar 4 '17 at 11:13
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    @Magisch the other US based employees have at the very least a permanent contract though. Mine is both at will and short term. – the Martian Mar 4 '17 at 12:28
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    Given that they're in the US, unless that contract says otherwise, even a long term contract is at will and endable whenever the bosses want. – Magisch Mar 4 '17 at 12:41
  • The difference beeing that if they give you a permanent and non-short term employment contract in europe, they're liable to all the minimums like minimum paid time off, unlimited sick leave, minimum notice etc, that the US employees never get. They're giving you a short time contract because their treatment of you would be illegal otherwise. – Magisch Mar 4 '17 at 12:47
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I have no intention of taking this offer unless it's way more favorable to me, and this is not a standard offer for the company. It is a remote first company with many US based, normally employed persons.

Well, they made their offer. They probably made that kind of offer specifically to avoid paying you benefits, to avoid holiday and sick pay, and to avoid any notice periods. They want you cheap and flexible, and thats what they're proposing.

You say you don't want that. So you can try to negotiate. If they won't budge, you can either take it or leave it.

What I would like to know is if this kind of contract is the best I can expect for a US-to-Europe remote position, and if not, some advice on how to negotiate a normal employment contract instead.

Probably. The problem is, europe has pretty much universally much stricter labor laws. In the US you can have people on a regular contract and give them 0 holidays, 0 days PTO, 0 days sick leave and fire them pretty much when you want.

In most states of the US, employment is "at will". So unless otherwise specified in the contract, you can be fired for any reason or no reason, with no notice.

They offered you this contract as a way to get around the legal requirements for employee benefits that exist in most of europe, since that is what they can do to their regular american employees.

You can try to negotiate but I wouldn't expect much.

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You have to understand that a remote employment situation for a company represents a much greater risk than having direct employees under roof and in view of management. Some of their risks include:

  1. Inability to directly monitor work status
  2. Uncertainty of exclusivity of employee focus
  3. Loss of face to face interaction that is often so critical to success of projects

As such they have proposed a working relationship that limits their risk and obligation of benefits to employee. As a contractor with short term renewable contract they have much greater flexibility to let you go if things do not go in a direction that they find suitable. In a contractor relationship they also do not have to offer all the conventional benefits that would be offered to a direct employee.

This opportunity also offers you some great flexibility and chance to prove great things about yourself. You will not be bound by some of the much more structured process and environment that direct employees are glued to. In addition you have the chance to work hard, bill hours worked, and show a shining example of what you can offer. Be a bright star and the next negotiation session may very well have a rather different outcome.

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    That's not what I asked, and also the company has other remotes in the US with regular contracts, so it doesn't even make sense. – the Martian Mar 4 '17 at 9:16
  • @theMartian It is what you asked. You said "without any of the rights I'd expect such as sickness or holiday pay, and not even a guarantee on the amount of hours I'd be employed.". The OP is trying to tell you "As a contractor with short term renewable contract they have much greater flexibility to let you go if things do not go in a direction that they find suitable. In a contractor relationship they also do not have to offer all the conventional benefits that would be offered to a direct employee". The OP is advising you to take it. – scaaahu Mar 4 '17 at 10:02
  • And "Be a bright star and the next negotiation session may very well have a rather different outcome.". – scaaahu Mar 4 '17 at 10:03
  • I clarified my question, can it be actually answered now? – the Martian Mar 4 '17 at 10:25
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You would be working as a contractor. As a contractor, you have basically no rights. On the other hand, as a contractor, you expect significantly higher pay. My rule of thumb is that your daily rate, times 150, should be about what a permanent employee would get before any deductions.

So if you think you can get a similar job with a €45,000 annual salary (of which tax, pension etc. will be paid first), then a contracting position with a daily rate of €300 would be fine. If you think you can make €60,000 a year, they need to pay €400 a day.

Note that US salaries are usually higher, exactly because the employer has no obligation to give you much notice, won't give you much holiday, won't pay when you are sick and so on. So they should be offering a good daily rate. And hiring a contractor in Europe instead of an employee makes life a lot easier for that US company, because all they need to do legally is wait for your bills and pay them. If they hired you as an employee, they would likely have to conform to your country's employment law, and they most likely don't have anyone with the slightest clue what these laws would be. Hiring a contractor on the other side is no problem at all.

So a "normal" employment contract is something that you won't get until they have a strong presence in your country, for the simple reason that a US company would have no idea what they need to do legally, and finding out and doing it all right would be significant work.

  • And because the company probably has no interest in all the mandatory employer contributions for permanent employees., unlimited sick leave (yes, really, it's mandatory in most of europe) and at least 25 days a year paid time off, as well as mandatory paid 6-12 month maternity and paternity leave. – Magisch Mar 4 '17 at 12:43

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