Regular work bringing regular cash or independence and the opportunity to plough your own furrow. Jonathan Hazell examines the pros and cons of being an employee
I have found a certain stigma among tree workers concerning the prospect of joining a business as an employee but I do not understand why, despite the variety of reasons put forward.
Many like the security of being employed while others enjoy the freedom of self-employment. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but neither model is wrong. Neither model suits everyone, nor should either be disparaged.
What’s not to like? Every day a decent employer will provide you with everything you need, you will be provided with suitable transport, the tools and equipment you need to perform effectively, PPE, health, safety and welfare arrangements, all of which will be more or less current and programmed for revision or replacement. You will be provided with work every day and somewhere to tip – at the end of the week you will get paid, just in time to down a few beers with your mates while you moan about your boss and the work.
With some employers you will get a pension and with every employer you should get training. The larger companies willingly accept their role providing a training ground for the fledgling tree worker, as well as giving an opportunity to the more mature figure to work on the tools for the remainder of their arboricultural career. Those businesses can off er a more modest wage than a business that requires skilled and experienced operatives to tackle complex tasks on behalf of their client base.
Compare that with working for yourself. You will need to find work that you can do, at a price and a time your customer is happy with. You will want to establish a brand and a reputation, you may want to grow too. You will need to comply with the legislative framework (some of which you may not even know about) and still have the energy to bill your customer and if necessary chase the payment.
Once you have won a piece of work you will need to ensure you have the resources to be efficient and effective. If you own kit you will need to have somewhere to store it and insure it against loss or theft. If you have a vehicle or plant you will need to ensure they are roadworthy and street legal. You will have to think about lifecycle costs and the maintenance and replacement of all your kit. You will probably have to work when you don’t feel like it and you will find that one particular job can only be done when you’ve booked a holiday. But, you are your own boss and for some that is worth all the sacrifices.
Perhaps it all turns on that elusive quality, character. A former colleague said that some people in tree care are what might be considered unemployable – dismissive of authority, working odd hours, rejecting attempts to shoehorn them into the company’s culture and so on.
However you choose to do it, enjoy your work and your career!
Jonathan Hazell’s career began on the tools with the Ealing tree gang in 1980. Senior roles in the public, charity and commercial sectors followed and in October 2011 Jonathan established his own arboricultural consultancy practice.