I was approached by a recruiter from TEKsystems who were looking for a Linux systems administration and automation type person for a project with one of their clients. I took a look at the job description, and it seemed like a pretty good match for my skills, so I was happy to apply and for TEKsystems to represent me.
I was interviewed three times by members of the team I would be working in over the course of about two weeks. The people were based in Sweden and Norway and, having previously lived in Norway, I felt brave enough to try out bits of my very very rusty Norwegian. The interviews all seemed to go well and, a few days later, I was offered the role which I accepted. A start date of May 15th 2023 was agreed.
I consider it a sincere and meaningful compliment when I am offered work, so it’s important to know that, in accepting this role, I had turned down three other opportunities, two permanent roles and one other contract.
As this role was deemed inside IR35, I would have to work through an umbrella company. It’s usually less friction to just go with the agency’s recommended option which was to use their parent company, Allegis Group. I duly went through their onboarding process, proving my address, identity, right to work and so on and so forth. All pretty standard stuff.
As May 15th approached, I was conscious that I had not, as yet, received any initial onboarding instructions neither directly from the client or via the agency. Whom did I contact on the 15th, when and how? As this was a remote work contract, I was also expecting delivery of a corporate laptop. This had not yet turned up.
Late in the week before the 15th, I had a call from the agency saying that there had been some kind of incident that the team I would be working with had to deal with. They had no-one available to do any kind of onboarding with me, so would I mind deferring the start of the contract by a week?
It turned out it was very convenient for me. A friend of the family had died a few weeks earlier from breast cancer and the funeral was on the Friday beforehand and, as it happened, my wife and daughter also got stranded in France due to the strikes. A couple of extra days free to deal with all of that were helpful, so I agreed and everyone was happy.
Towards the end of that week, there had still been radio silence from the client. The agency was trying to obtain a Scope Of Work from them which would lead to an actual contract being drawn up for signing.
The next Monday was a bank holiday and, on the Tuesday morning, I got this message from the agency.
We would like to update you to confirm we are unable to continue with your onboarding journey, and as such your onboarding journey has now ceased.
We wish you all the best for your future assignments.
Needless to say, this was rather surprising and resulted in me attempting to get in touch with someone there to discover what was going on. No immediate answer was forthcoming other than vague mentions of difficulty with a Swedish business entity not being able to take on a UK-based resource. I was told that efforts would be made to clarify the situation. To the day of writing this, that’s still not happened. Well, not for me at least.
At the end of that week, it became obvious that whatever problem had happened was terminal for my contract, so I started back contact hunting and reactivating my CV on the various job boards.
I asked TEKsystems if they would offer any kind of compensation. I’d acted entirely in good faith: I’d turned down three other offers of work, told other agencies I was no longer available and deactivated my CV on the various job boards. It seemed fair they should offer me some kind of compensation for the lost earnings, wasted time and lost opportunities. They have declined this request leaving me entirely out of pocket for the 3 weeks I should have been working for them and, of course, unexpectedly out of work.
I’m obviously back looking for my next opportunity and I’m sure something will be along in due course. This is a cautionary tale of what can go wrong in the world of contracting and, if your next contract involves TEKsystems or Allegis Group, you might wish to be extra careful, making sure they are actually able to offer you the work they say they are, and that you get paid.