I received an email recently from one of my VA team members which highlighted a problem they had been having with sub-contracting VAs but it is something that all VAs should be aware of when doing work for someone – whether another VA or the client direct. And this relates to your responsibility regarding the task charged to you and also the way you carry out the work and the time that is taken to do the job.
The VA says:
I just thought I would let you know that a couple of times this year I have advertised a subbie role with a set amount of time attached to tasks… and each of these times the subbie has gone over the amount of time allocated and then expected to be paid for it.
Out of common courtesy I would think that people would always email or call to ask if they could go further with the job before just going ahead and doing the hours… this has been frustrating and I always end up paying as I feel guilty that they have done the work but gosh it is frustrating and I think rude that they even expect it. I also have an allocated budget and hours from my clients and therefore sometimes wear the extra hours as it may not fit in the budget… anyhow I just thought this might be an interesting blog topic, to ensure people are aware of their responsibilities.
Now, this is a very valid point. If you’ve been tasked to do work over a certain time period, it is NOT your right to choose to go over the time amount allocated. The VA I quoted above is within their rights not to pay any sub-contractor for the extra hours, but simply what they were engaged to do. However, they’ve felt a sense of obligation to pay – even though they lose out financially. Not all clients would see it the same way as this VA and often wouldn’t pay for the extra hours, so why should that VA too?
If you’ve been given a job to do and a set number of hours, if the job is not completed, you do NOT go on with the job and do extra time unless you are prepared to do one of the following:
- Contact the client to get permission to continue with the job, or
- Do it but be prepared that you may not get paid/acknowledged for the extra time you spent.
People set budgets and time constraints for a reason so pay them the courtesy of respecting that.
Kate LaFrance says
Kathie – very well said! All of the tasks that I sub out are done first by me personally (similar tasks) and I KNOW how long it should take. Nothing is more aggravating than to have a sub come back to you and want to be paid for one-and-a-half or even twice-as-much time as you know it took them. Even worse, to me, are the ones who just go down the list and say “Didn’t do this” “Didn’t do that” and still expect to be paid full rate. I can’t present incomplete work to my clients and a sub should know that. Where is the personal pride in a job well done? It’s lacking in so many people these days.
Lia Parkinson says
Luckily for me I have not yet found myself in the situation. However, if the client has put a budget constraint, it might be an idea to pass on the job as a “project” for which the sub is going to be paid regardless of how long she/he is going to take of course taking into account the quality of work that comes back and deadlines. We all work at different speeds, type at different speeds, etc and it is hard to tell someone that they must do the job within a set time. I know that sometime this will not be possible, but for those time when it is, it will stop any issues on hours and it will also allow you to find reliable subs that work at a similar pace than you, on whom you will be able to count on in the future.
Kathie M Thomas says
Good idea Lia and that will work with some jobs, i.e. transcription, data entry of xx number of entries. But there are times when it won’t work, e.g. x number of hours of research or something else.
I don’t know what the job was that this post is about however there are times when the stated time is it and that needs to be respected by whoever is doing the job.
Mary Ruth says
To me, this is a really big issue, not just for VAs but for anyone doing projects virtually or as an independent agent. I was interested to hear on a webinar that many VAs have abandoned the hourly rate and simply charge by the project. Beginning to think I must do the same. Why should a client (whether another VA or a regular client) pay a cent more than you have quoted them? Why should they settle for an estimate? VAs need to know how much to charge and never waffle or go back on their quotes.
Serious issue, indeed. Let’s talk more about it.
Kathie Thomas says
I don’t think that can apply to all services provided by VAs or others Mary Ruth. I still very much charge by the hour and it’s not that I don’t know how much to charge, it’s just that the work I do is piecemeal and often daily. My regulars know I charge by the hour and they’re fine with that.
However, there are jobs I do which are classed as ‘project’, like setting up a blog for someone and as such, that has a project rate. Doesn’t matter how little or how many hours I spend (and some go way over what I estimate the time might be for various reasons) I still charge that project rate.
If you are already familiar with the client’s needs and the content of a particular job, of course you will know how long it will take (what shortcuts/styles you can use, etc.) however someone new would hopefully be far more careful and diligent, take a little more time about the presentation and checks before returning it – this would be extra time that you would not be needing to do and maybe should be factored in when allocating a budget for the task.
I’ve not accepted any subbie work thus am in the dark as to what checks /requirements or interaction might happen between each VA but it looks like a bit of a minefield with each of us having different standards. This is a very interesting discussion topic we can all definitely learn from.
Jeune Taylor says
Wow, this very thing happened to me last week with one of my subs and I totally had to eat the cost. I have decided to put in all my subs contracts now that they must get approval before they go over time budget or they will not be guaranteed to get the extra hours.
Great post, and a definite problem area. A solution that has worked for me, both with performing subcontract work and hiring my own subcontractors, is to do payment upfront (be sure to write a delivery guarantee in the contract). That way, it is clear from the get-go that payment is only for the specified amount of time. It has worked well so far…knock on wood 🙂