Companies who require specialized technical skillsets outside of their business’ domain would typically bring in engineers who freelance as consultants or “gig workers”. Engineering consultants are usually engaged as subject matter experts, to complement internal engineering teams, or to provide additional manpower. The typical reasons are to solve difficult engineering challenges or to meet project deadlines.
Though there are many advantages in engaging with freelance engineers, here are some things to consider:
In California, hiring 1099 workers can be challenging
- California uses a 3-pronged ABC Test which engineering consultants must meet to qualify as an independent contractor, or a “1099”:
(A) The person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work.
(B) The person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.
(C) The person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.
If the business regularly employs engineers performing the same function, “Prong B” might disqualify the consultant as a 1099 and must be engaged as a W-2 employee.
Freelance Engineers can be tough to find
- A study on the gig economy by Pew Research estimates that 16% of the U.S. population has worked as a freelancer through an app or website. Remote work has led to a 51% increase of mechanical engineers who sign up on freelance websites, though a study by freelance platform Upwork found that only 1.8% of workers who are classified as engineers/architects make up their freelance talent pool.
- “Ghosting” occurs when freelance workers stop communicating at some point during the assignment. Some theories as to why some freelancers do not stay committed include:
- On average, gig workers earn about 58% less than their full-time counterparts. The average annual income of full-time employees is $62,500, while for freelancers, it is $36,500. To earn more, workers usually take on projects that pay higher hourly rates and have longer fulfillment durations.
- Freelance websites charge a 5-20% service fee from the worker’s total earnings so if the project does not meet their target net pay, they look for one that does.
- Freelancers typically juggle multiple clients, so their attention could be on projects that are more critical or have shorter deadlines.
How can companies curtail these challenges but still hire an engineer for short-term projects? Consider using the services of an engineering staffing firm.
- A specialized staffing firm will likely have a well-developed network of consultants who are experts in their fields. This access to the “talent” is especially useful in time-sensitive situations.
- Engineering consultants who work with agencies are professionals with strong track records of successful engagements. The relationship built over the course of successful assignments helps to minimize misalignment or unmet expectations.
- Professional staffing firms can determine those consultants who are in compliance with California’s ABC test criteria and provide a pathway to engage those who do not meet those requirements. The ability to work with both 1099 and W2 statuses reduces the complications of engaging consultants.
SoloPoint Solutions has a history of successfully providing companies with the right engineering resource to support critical projects. You can activate our network of mechanical, electrical, and manufacturing engineers to complement your workforce or to meet a production deadline.
To see how SoloPoint Solutions can provide these engineering resources, start a conversation with us today!