Saturday, September 18, 2010

Contract For Freelancers – A Necessary Evil?

There is nothing like the independence that comes with the job of working as a freelancer. You not only have control over the kind of work you do and your work schedule but at the same time are not answerable to anyone except your client. This does make this field of freelancing very attractive and fetch able. But then working as a freelancer does involve its own share of risks and issues.

The biggest being the scare of your clients not paying up for the work that you did for them. The other issue may involve the client deciding to change the deliverable initially agreed upon during the course of the project. So is there a particular umbrella of protection that a freelancer can make use of in such a situation? Well yes, there is the option of using a contract.

There are many of us who are usually not that comfortable with the option of putting forward a contract to their clients. The sense that the freelancer does not trust the prospective client tends to loom at large. But then there are situations which are best presented under the protective shade of a contract. This brings us to the next question; when does a contract become necessary?

The situations here would generally depend on a case to case basis but generally there are a few situations which can be generalized here.

  • To begin with, writing a single 400 word article does not need to come with a contract but yes, writing 200 of such articles for a single project would suffice the needs of having a contract.
  • The second case would be involving projects which are associated with large sums of payments. Having a contractual binding here would make the client liable to pay for the services that you would be in turn delivering.
  • Most of us depend a lot on the trust factor and might not go in for a contract with an individual whom we might trust. But it is a good idea to be fair in your dealings with your clients and come up with a contract irrespective of your trust factor with the client. Not only does it convey your professionalism but at the same time takes it in writing that both you as well as your client are serious regarding the project.
  • A long term project which might include yearly renewals too is best suited under the gambit of a contract.
  • A pro bono project or a project done as a favor for a relative or a friend too does not necessarily need a contractual agreement.
Ok, so with the necessity of a contract being clear we now come to the point as to how to come up with a contract. You need not be a lawyer to draft a contract. All that you need is to be clear as to what terms and conditions you wish to put for the particular project. A good contract must ensure that:
  • It is stated in simple and easy to understand language;
  • The content must not be ambiguous;
  • The relevant facts regarding the project should be included in it.
So what are the points that generally all contracts must include?

  • Deliverables/ Services Offered: The contract should clearly state what is expected from this project and what all will be delivered by the freelancer towards the same.
  • Time Frame/Schedule: The time frame expected towards completion of the project too must be clearly stated in the contract.
  • Payment Terms: This ideally includes the total agreed payment for the project as well as the payment cycle decided upon. If there are any chances wherein a renewal of the pricing terms in the middle of the project might be sought either by the client or the freelancer then that too needs to be mentioned here. Any advance payments, charges for delayed payment etc should be clearly stated.
  • Termination Clause : This should include that under what conditions can the project be terminated mid way and as to what will be the compensation plan in light of such a termination.
  • Arbitration and Jurisdiction: This clause is all about providing information that in case of a dispute “how” and “where” will the case be taken up.

No comments:

Post a Comment