Which is better – subbies or employees?


If you’re a tradie business owner who’s looking to hire a new team for a job, do you go for employees or subbies? Employees might have more loyalty, but subbies might be more specialised. So how do you decide?


What’s the difference?

You probably already know this, but for those a little late to the party, here’s the difference between an employee and a subbie – an employee is part of your business and regularly works for you, whereas a subbie is usually someone who runs their own business and is doing a one-off job.


Subcontractors (subbies)


Subbies are great to have around because they tend to be specialised in a particular area, meaning they’re great at what they do. If you have a job that’s a little trickier, subbies can bring in a tonne of experience and skills.

You also only need to pay subbies when you bring them on to do the work. You don’t need to worry about paying them wages, or leave. Also, if they get injured on site, they’re usually covered by their own insurance, so that’s less of a headache for you.


It can be hard to have people coming and going all the time who don’t know your processes. They usually don’t have time to figure out how everything works, and who everyone is.

Because subbies often have other gigs going on other than yours, you might be dropped if something goes drastically wrong with one of their existing clients and they need to run.




You’re usually their only focus (and source of cash), so employees are likely to be 100% committed to you and your business. You also have a bit more control over how and when they work, and the processes they need to follow.

Employees often work set hours every week, making it easy for you to crunch the numbers for them. Also, because employees work together more often, if you’ve got a good team, the jobs can get done quicker and with much less hassle.


With employees, there’s a lot more paperwork to sort out. You need to make sure that everything is sorted for them in regards to wages, leave, and employment contracts.

If something goes wrong, your insurance will need to cover your employees. And because of their leave entitlements, someone could always take advantage and pull a sickie when you really don’t need it.

So what do you reckon? Subbies or employees? We think a balance of both is the way to go, but what works for you?

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