What to Remember about Legality When Hiring a Freelancer

Freelancers create a new type of workplace in the U.S. and around the world. A freelancer is a person who is hired without a long-term commitment. Types of freelancers range from ghostwriters and graphic designers to marketing specialists and computer engineers. More and more Americans today are committing to taking on freelance work, so in turn, more businesses are reaching out to them to fill various needs.

However, with these new independently contracted employees coming into the workplace, there are new legal considerations for businesses. When you hire a freelancer, make sure that you get your proposal and agreement in writing. Both you and the freelancer should understand what is expected of them, and create a contract that outlines the work being done, the price agreed upon, and which party the job belongs to. In the case of ghostwriting, a writer’s agreement is necessary to ensure that the ghostwriter knows that the client gets all credit for their work.

Make sure that you specify that any work done is classified as ‘work for hire.’ By U.S. law, the work created by an individual belongs to them – the freelancer being the legal owner and author of the content. However, the exception is noted as ‘work for hire,’ and businesses need to understand this, before creating a contract for their freelancer. Making sure to appreciate this work means that the client commissioning the job is the legal owner of the content. It is the critical information for any business hiring freelancers.

Freelancers may not be full-time employees, but they do have payment requirements. Price aside, freelancers prefer different methods of payment. You may encounter a freelancer that wants to be paid by cashier’s check, some by company check. In today’s modern age, many freelancers prefer electronic methods such as Paypal or direct deposit. You and the freelancer may agree upon a one-time payment when work is completed, or a few payments paid per milestone.

When you set up payment with a freelancer, make sure that you both can agree upon.

Whether you found a freelancer on a website such as Reedsy or someone in your professional network, it is not typical for a freelancer to be paid upfront, as businesses take the risk of the freelancer merely taking the money and not finishing the work. If you choose to pay a freelancer upfront, add something in their contract stipulating this potential problem.

Hiring a freelancer is a process. When the time comes when more and more people are turning to freelance work, business owners should understand how to find and work with these independently contracted employees.

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