As a freelancer, the excitement of landing a new client can lead to rushing into projects without having a legal contract in place. While it might feel tempting to skip the formalities and jump right into it, not having your client sign a contract can have serious consequences in the long run. To help you get started, we’ve gathered 5 key contracts to consider as a freelancer with links to lawyer-drafted templates that you can download and use the same day. We are reducing the guess work so you can feel protected and professional!
This is the must-have contract if you have a service-based business and sell to clients. This is our catch-all contract to cover any type of services as this template is not industry specific. Rather it’s been drafted with maximum flexibility so that you can choose the terms that fit your style and policies. It is essential to put in writing what your offering is, what expectations you have of your client, and how your services work. Don’t leave room for guessing, rather ensure you on board your clients with clear payment terms, refund policies, rescheduling policies and other expectations that if broken allow you to terminate the contract. This contract also allows you to outline who owns intellectual property for any works that may be created under your contract, and includes a media release that allows you to promote the work, photos or testimonials on social media. If you're not sure which template to use, this is the one that you can easily customize to fit your goals!
This contract is for you if you’re hiring a contractor to assist in your business, which is different from an employee. A contractor can be an assistant, a sub-contractor to help with your client services, a graphic designer, a freelance marketing specialist, or anyone with unique skills who will work for you as a freelancer and not be on payroll or entitled to any of the employee benefits set out under the law. This is a cost-effective way of growing your team, getting extra help, but without the up-front set-up and legal requirements of hiring an employee. To protect yourself, you want to make sure that it is clear you are hiring a contractor, and not an employee, since there are legal and financial consequences for misclassifying workers. Having a proper contract allows for terms around who owns the intellectual property of any materials, clarifies the contractor must pay their own taxes, and you can outline any confidentiality and non-solicitation terms so they can’t poach your clients or other workers. The contract allows for any qualifications needed for the job, termination provisions, and any other deal-breakers that go against your policies. This contract is crucial to protect yourself under the law, so we highly recommend this one as soon as you hire that extra help!
Under Canadian intellectual property law, ideas are not protected, meaning the only way to protect an idea is to use a contract such as an NDA. This contract is for you if you are negotiating or pitching an idea and want to ensure that your idea and intellectual property are protected as your own and kept confidential. It is also crucial if you don’t want an employee, contractor or personal relation to disclose your personal and private information. In order to hold someone accountable, ensure you have an NDA that clearly outlines what constitutes your "confidential information" and the consequences if the contract is breached. Don’t go sharing your business ideas before getting this signed!
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*Disclaimer: this is not legal advice and is solely for educational purposes. For legal advice please contact your local lawyer.