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The Essential Contracts Freelancers Need

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If you’re looking to enter the world of freelancing, or have just taken this step, then you’ll likely be eager to make sure you have the contracts that you need in place. You’ll want to know that you have a professional outlook from a documentation point of view and are contractually protected as you build your career.

Contract law for freelancers doesn’t have to be complicated! In this article, we’ll cover the essential contracts that freelancers need, so you have the confidence to launch your freelancing business and make a success of it. 

Terms of Service

It’s fundamental to your success as a freelancer that you have your own Terms of Service (or Terms & Conditions) as part of a written contract with your clients. These terms form the contractual bedrock for your freelancing business.

They will act to set out the agreed scope of work (via a services schedule), timescales and deliverables, a payment schedule, the parties’ respective obligations, your insurance arrangements, and, crucially, the applicable limits on your liability to your client.

You should also ensure that you always have a set of signed Terms of Service in place with each of your clients so that there is no ambiguity or uncertainty as to the applicable terms. 

Data Protection Agreement

If you’re going to be processing large amounts of data (in particular, personal data) as part of the contract with your client, then it’s likely that you will need a Data Protection Agreement put in place. This will set out very clearly the data protection rights and responsibilities of all parties concerned and include important provisions in the event of a breach, such as data protection indemnities and the applicable caps on liability.

Sub-Consultant Agreement

If you utilise self-employed sub-consultants in the delivery of services to your clients, then you should put in place a suitable agreement with each of them. A Sub-Consultant Agreement acts to set out important terms regarding the relationship between you and your sub-consultants, including scope of services, status, taxation, working arrangements, confidentiality, insurance and liability etc.

Employment Contracts

If you have employed workers, like a personal assistant to enable you to deliver your services, then you must issue an Employment Contract to them. This contract is a legal requirement and will act as a vital document in both setting out their rights and responsibilities and protecting your business.

The Employment Contract should cover all the core areas that you would expect an employment contract to cover, including salary, working hours (whether full-time or part-time), sick pay, probationary period, notice, holiday, payment terms, pension, bonus (if applicable), confidentiality and restrictive covenants etc. 

A contract is not only a legal requirement, it will support your working relationship with your employees, and ensure they feel protected too.

Supplier Agreements

As a freelancer, you’ll likely have various suppliers providing important goods and services to your business to enable you to function efficiently and effectively. It is in your interests to ensure that you have robust agreements in place with these suppliers to provide business certainty and continuity of resources.

Within what period do they have to deliver, what happens if an item isn’t available, and what is in place to protect both you and your supplier? Without such a contract, you could be subject to issues with quality or supply.

Website Terms

As an independent contractor pitching for work in a competitive business climate, you’ll likely need a website to act as a brochure for your freelance services. If so, you should upload suitable Website Terms to your site. 

These terms act as a form of contract between you and the users of your site, covering such areas as permitted user rights and copyright protection over your content and images etc. Most websites will provide Terms & Conditions on how their site works, covering things from cookies usage and advertising to intellectual property. If you’re handling personal data in any way, you should also have a Privacy Policy in place.

The importance of reviewing your contracts

Contracts are living documents, so reviewing them to ensure they’re up-to-date and compliant is an important part of running your business. Doing an annual review of your contracts with a legal advisor will mean they are in line with the law, and you can be confident in your compliance.

A contract review may even help to identify opportunities for you to improve your business. This could be including charges on overdue invoices, or updating your rates and inclusions to be in line with industry standards. 

Considering how you use and store contracts

There are multiple contract management tools out there to help you store, update and share your contracts with the people who need to see them. Digital signatures and other digital technology can make approving contracts easier and more professional. 

When it comes to contracts:

  • Create them in line with legal expertise 
  • Deploy them simply 
  • Update them regularly

Wrapping up

If you need advice regarding freelancer contracts, or with regards to your rights and obligations under an existing contract or advice in this area generally, LawBite are here to help. 

Appointing a lawyer to assist you, gives you the peace of mind to know that all your freelancer needs will be met. LawBite can advise on everything from setting up your freelancing services business to drafting your contracts, advising on specific legal issues or general business advice.

About the author

Ashley Gurr is a commercial and contract lawyer at LawBite. Ashley has over 15 years of experience in private practice helping SMEs and in-house for an international consultancy group advising on commercial contracts and a multinational utility giant in a contract strategy role.

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Updated on
November 23, 2023

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