Q: I run a successful small business but cannot yet commit to taking on any permanent staff. Instead I am looking at taking on a freelancer that I won’t have to pay if they don’t come up with the orders I need to grow the business. Can you provide some guidelines regarding terms of engagement?
A: You have no real control over a freelancer, or over situations with the clients they are seeing on your behalf. So protecting yourself and your reputation as much as possible is important. It is therefore worth seeking the advice of a local employment solicitor who can advise on contracts and other paperwork.
Clear communication with your freelancer will be the key to a successful relationship. You may know what you want and how best to achieve it, but you will need to ensure there are no ambiguities when passing on your visions. A clear and concise brief setting out your expectations in detail will avoid misunderstandings that could prevent you from achieving your goal.
When you find your ideal freelancer, never be tempted to assume anything. Ensure your working relationship is formally laid out and future-proof all client relationships that your freelancer may build on your behalf, by signing off all documentation, from the contract to any non-disclosure or non-compete agreements. Regarding payment, bear in mind that if you pay fees upfront in full there is little protection against the freelancer disappearing before his job is properly done.
You also need to be sure that you are not creating an employment situation where you could be liable for income tax that the “freelancer” has not paid or even minimum wage responsibilities. Your solicitor can set up a contract that ensures an incentive to finish the job properly as well as to ensure that no employment relationship has arisen.