The freelance contract is a work agreement like any other. Its goal is to set the parameters of the work relationship between freelancers and their clients. This freelance service agreement is the basis of a healthy relationship between both parties. To freelancers, as well as employers, it provides robust and useful guarantees.
After all, freelance service without a contract can give way to confusion and serious misunderstandings. In order to avoid such issues, agreeing on the parameters of the service and putting them into a freelance contract is the best solution.
What are the essential elements of a freelance service agreement ?
Like any other work agreement, you can expect the freelance contract to contain terms for the payment, the length of the service and termination. However, some other essential elements needs to be included in a good freelance service agreement. Elements that can sometimes differ depending on the nature of the freelance service to be provided.
Define the parties involved
Just like any synallagmatic contract, the parties involved need to be clearly presented. In this case, the parties are the client who is supposed to pay for the service and the freelance who has to deliver said service.
Set the parameters of the freelance service
This section needs to set the obligations of each of the parties. For a freelancer, the obligation would be the delivery of the work they are being paid for. For a client, the obligation would then be the payment to be released. It’s that simple! That being said, every detail regarding the work need to be presented to avoid any confusion.
For a writer for example, the contract will need to state the length of the texts, the delivery frequency and any other meaningful details relating to the service. For a graphic designer, it could include file formats and specifications, delivery dates, number of revisions, and so on.
Terms of payment
On the client side, everything relating to the remuneration needs to be detailed. What is the amount? When will the payment be made? What are the verification processes before the payment is released? Which payment service is decided upon? Who takes care of transaction fees?
Additional freelance service
It stands to reason that the client needs to be satisfied before the payment can be made. But there should never be any confusion between editing, revisions and extra tasks. The freelance contract should set the scope of the project. Any task beyond that scope should lead to supplemental pay.
Copyright and intellectual property rights of freelance service
These terms are particularly useful for freelance service where creative process is required. Writers, musicians, filmmakers, graphic designers and even developers need it. This provision aims to dispel any confusion regarding the property rights of the piece, artwork or software. In so doing, it allows or stops the freelancer from using it on other projects or for personal use.
Limitation of liability
Almost all commercial and freelance service contracts have this clause. It protects the freelancer from responsibility regarding the damages and prejudices resulting from his work. In other words, a developer should not be sued for the improper use of his software by the client. Likewise, a writer or graphic designer is protected from the malignant use of their pieces by the client.
Terms of termination
A work relationship can be terminated for a plethora of reasons. Maybe the freelance service has been provided and payment has been released ; maybe both parties want out ; or maybe one of them wants to end it unilaterally.
The freelance contract should state how the contrat can be terminated. At the very least, it should contain provisions for a notice period. That way the client can find a replacement and the freelance can prepare for the loss of income.
Non Disclosure Agreement
This is the 101 of most freelance contracts. It’s a provision that aims to protect the confidentiality of any information the freelancer may come across while working for the client. Most of the big companies and web agencies automatically include this provision in their contracts.
This is what makes the freelance service agreement legally binding. Without signatures, it’s just a piece of paper with no power whatsoever.
What about freelancing platforms?
UpWork, PeoplePerHour, Fiverr, Guru, etc… all these platforms take care of the freelance contract in the same manner. They all have robust and all-encompassing terms and conditions that govern the relationships between clients and freelancers.
By creating an account on those freelancing platforms and agreeing to the terms and services, you automatically agree to their global freelance contract. All of the essential provisions are contained within. As well as other specific terms governing the relationship between clients, freelancers and the platform itself.
In conclusion, these platforms should be credited for simplifying the process. And since they can’t reiterate the clauses of the contract every time a new work relationship starts, they provide an arsenal of mediation tools to solve any and all disputes.
Your freelance service agreement should contain the following clauses and information in order to start a healthy work relationship. It’s an asset both for the client and the freelancer.
- Defining the parties involved
- Setting the parameters of the freelance service
- Payment parameters
- The scope of the project
- Copyright and intellectual property rights
- Limitation of liability clause
- Terms of Termination
- Non Disclosure Agreement
- Signatures of all parties
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