Working 8 till Late…What Defines a ‘Day’ for an Interim?

If you are an interim manager, your hours probably won’t be the same as if you were permanent. So what’s reasonable? What’s expected? And how do you keep both you and your client happy?

‘What defines a “day”‘ is a question that all interim managers ask themselves when agreeing a day rate for an assignment. This is especially an issue for newcomers to the interim market, or if, like many of our interims, you are on an international assignment. When I get close to the final agreement of an assignment, the issue of travel and subsistence expenses often arises. It can lead to questions such as: ‘Is travel to the site or international travel included in the rate?’ or ‘Who pays for the accommodation when you are outside day commuting territory?’

Common sense prevails

My advice in the first instance is to keep to the basic principles of the HMRC guidelines and your status as an independent company. Thereafter, a big dose of common sense is needed.

Unfortunately, this is sometimes not the case. In one situation, a particularly forthright interim was insistent that his travel costs to an east of England site be covered by the client, despite careful briefing that it was unreasonable to do so. Unsurprisingly, the client declined to cover the costs and, the following week, served notice on the interim.

Generally, my suggestion would be to pick up your own travel to and from the client site and then ask your accountant how this is expensed within your own business. Thereafter, you can wrap the costs into your day rate, or seek normal business expenses from the client as part of their company policy. In this way, you avoid uncomfortable and somewhat unnecessary conversations and can get on with the job in hand.

Play fair

It is understandable that some clients expect at least an 8 hour working day. However their approach to this issue must be aligned realistically to the delivery and specifications of their project for a successful outcome.

So notwithstanding IR35, my view again is, be fair and reasonable. It is probably unfair to expect the client to pay for your travel to work and, if you are charging a princely day rate, then as a client I would expect my ‘pound of flesh’.

Indeed, some of our interims are working 12-15 hour days regularly. They understand that this is the nature of interim management and part of getting the job done. When it comes to the weekend and international travel, again use some common sense and discuss and agree terms with the client beforehand.

Most do play fair, but if you are clock watching and there is not some give and take, then don’t become an interim – it’s not a 9 to 5 job.