I've always worked full time and not experienced with contracting. Now I may have some opportunities for "W2 contracts". The job description indicates benefits (medical, vision, dental, 401k). But it fails to mention if vacation, sick time and paid holidays is included. Is vacation usually part of a W2 contract benefit package just like full time?
A contractor is not an employee of a company. If he can't work for some reason (e.g. vacation, holiday, sickness) he can't bill the company, and thus doesn't get paid (his STD insurance may, though, if he has one). I'm actually amazed the company would pay medical and retirement benefits; ususally the contractor pays those out of his own pocket.
I've done some W-2 contracts and at some corporations they do include benefits (although usually not quite as good as for regular employees). It's usually the larger companies which employee contractors for significant periods of time, e.g. 6mo or more, or sometimes even years.
w-2 bascially means you are a contractor and you will have your federal taxes, medicare, social security, and sometimes state and local taxes taken out.
1099 means nothing is taken out and you are responsible for all those taxes at the end of the year or you pay taxes quarterly. Many people get in trouble like this because it becomes a full time job just to deduct and pay your taxes every 3 months or yearly. Hire an accountant, but that costs money. For a few dollars more per hour, many times it isn't worth it.
As far as "benefits" and contracting, ask as many questions as possible. I've had various discussions with companies who claim to give medical benefits when in fact, it becomes more or less an expense. Especially if you have to cover your entire family. I've had contracts in the past where I was paying over $1000 per month for my "benefits".
Many contracting companies and consulting companies, especially in IT, like to throw out "we have a smorgasboard of benefits to choose from." It basically means you are paying for what you get. Yeah you can choose to get a plan that covers nothing for 50 bucks a month, but in the end, 50 bucks a month is a waste if you have to pay 1000 bucks for an emergency room visit.
For me, if I'm getting full benefits where I pay very little out of pocket expenses for under 200 bucks a month, that is a benefit. That's about 50 bucks a week coming from my paycheck. But if i'm paying close to 200 bucks per week, that is an expense, not a benefit. I don't care how people try to swing it. Make sure you look at all these factors because sometimes people can be smoothe when it comes to "benefits"
Say you make 100K per year. It sounds good. But if your benefits cost around 800 bucks per month, your 100K becomes 90K real quick. Just make sure you get all the information before making decisions. There are many firms who do not like to give that much info out or tell you, "that is determined later"... Well for me, I need to know these things up front before they or I waste time.
Just because they claim there are "benefits" never really means there really are.
Yeah if you think spending over 1000 bucks a month should be considered a benefit, then I guess we think differenlty. But for me, it's an expense. An expense my family and I need to spend just in case something happens, but it's still money out of my pocket every week, every other week or every month.
I know when I look at salary and rates, I always make sure I know what exactly is included and what "benefit" really means.