A warning for contractors

Savannah 26 September 2007 7

As the ‘caretaker period’ of government looms followed by the slack season of Chrissy and post-Chrissy summer hols, people who are contemplating signing up with an agency in Canberra should be aware of one called TPA (The Public Affairs agency, and its umbrella Vedior Pacific Asia, based in Sydney).

Do NOT confuse this one with the much longer established Public Affairs Recruitment Company, headed by the very professional Karen !

Maybe I was unlucky, but my experience with Vedior Asia Pacific was a nightmare.

I was offered a contract at the APS 5 level (a bit under the mark for a PAO these days, but what the hell, it was all going into my super fund, or so I believed). Now, as I said, I may have been unlucky, but subsequent events were unbelieveable – the small administrative issue of depositing the whole 100 % of salary into a super fund (entirely legal and approved by the ATO) seemed to present mammoth difficulties for Vedior – there was never more than one person in the office and I was handed on to Kalena in Brisbane, someone called Larsh or Lark in Sydney and the two ladies in the Canberra office Vanessa who always seemed to be on a course somewhere and Laura who stoically held the fort between times.

The really annoying thing was that, after having difficulty getting into the electronic timesheet system, I found that it ran on a weekly, rather than a fortnightly span, (and seemed to start on a Sunday, rather than the usual Thursday to Wednesday run) and my first month’s salary was paid into my bank account, (with a big bite of tax taken out) rather than paid entire into my super fund (as a retired APS officer I can live, albeit frugally,for a while, on my Comsuper pension).

Vediot admitted they had made a mistake, and offered to reverse the payment, if I repaid the entire amount – by that time I was waiting for my salary to be deposited into AGEST and I decided it was going to take too long. My contract ended the second week of September – and I had to wait until the 24th (yesterday) before I saw part of the funds deposited intop AGEST.

When I kicked up a fuss and threatened to notify the Department, I was told the next amount would be paid into AGEST on 20th October – almost two months after I had ended the contract.

Moral of this story – check out the agency that offers you a contract as carefully as they check you out – if you want to salary sacrifice, ask how long they hold on to your money, and insist, if you can, that when your contract ends, all the monies owed to you should be paid to you.

And don’t deal with Vedior Asia Pacific unless you’re feeling really lucky.

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7 Responses to A warning for contractors
v_man_returns v_man_returns 11:07 pm 27 Sep 07

I’m currently signed up with TPA in Melbourne as I look to move to the big smoke. I was with TPA here for a week or so but ended up getting a full time position by my own devices. Don’t give them a bad name until after I can land myself a new job! Is there another recruiter other than the Public Affairs Recruitment Company because I know my work is currently sourcing PAOs through somewhere other than TPA.

ant ant 5:52 pm 27 Sep 07

it’s interesting how some contracts work, especially for IT people. Some people are treated as an separate entity, as a business where the product is themselves (hence the need for insurance). While others are either rented out to employers by the labour hire company, who is the person’s employer, or are sold to the employer as an employee and the labour hire company gets a commission off the employer.
I remember in the olden days, when there was a bit more regulation of employment, some of the first type of arrangement were found to be wrong, and that the worker was actually in a staff/employer relationship to the labour hire company, despite the company pretending that they didn’t have that kind of relationship with the worker (cropped up with OH&S, compo type situations). There were some tax implications, also.

fnaah fnaah 3:01 pm 27 Sep 07

Caf, last time I was wh0red out on contract, i had to pay my own indemnity insurance (a few bucks an hour off the top of my rate). That was an IT contract though, might be different for admin staff.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 5:05 pm 26 Sep 07

Nothing that Therese Rein can’t fix!

ant ant 4:25 pm 26 Sep 07

I’ve been very underwhelmed with most recruitment agencies here. Lots of very young staff with eyes firmly fixed on their bonuses and commissions. They company-hop to an astonishing degree.
There are some good ones though. Gillian Beaumont and Hudson’s have been professional and effective.

caf caf 4:24 pm 26 Sep 07

They also have to cover some kind of professional indemnity insurance premiums don’t they?

I-filed I-filed 4:19 pm 26 Sep 07

These recruitment companies should perform better – they cream a massive amount from the taxpayer. An account manager generally only needs three fulltimers on their books to cover their own wages and some. Anything over three after overheads (minimal: most recruitment companies run out of tiny premises) is sheer profit.

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