The technical jargon that will tell you your legal rights as a freelancer isn't always clear or interesting. It may not seem nearly as important as the actual work you do. But, there are many reasons you need to take the time to understand your legal standing as a freelance. Here are 4 of the most important.
1. Your Employer Knows His Rights
Entire business classes are formed around the theme of "managing the freelance worker." Many employers of freelance labor consider the freelancer a money-saving alternative to hiring a traditional workforce. But, they are also wary of you. They understand that traditional methods of managment and discipline don't apply to the freelancer. To protect themselves against future problems or even litigation, they are well versed in the legal particulars of your business relationship.
Unfortunately, there are some legislative protections a freelancer is not entitled to. Cover your back. Don't let him know anything you don't. Your employer is your temporary boss, but he is looking out for his own well-being first. It is up to you to defend yourself, and the best way to do that is through knowledge.
2. Insure Fair Treatment
Some employers assume that you are desperate for business. They translate your home-office, competitive pricing, and your willingness to provide personal service to mean that you can't afford to make waves. There are legal requirements for the hiring and maintaining of freelance workers. If your employer is attempting to do things that feel like transgressions of your time and service, the quickest way to remedy the situation is to know your legal rights. Even better, knowing your rights before accepting a position can help you craft a solid working contract.
3. Your Freedom
There is a legal definition for a freelancer. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service defines a freelance worker thusly. "A general rule is that you, the payer, have the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result." This means that unless otherwise stipulated in a contract, an employer has no right to micro-manage you or to insist work be done a certain way. He can do that with full-time employees, but not you. All you have agreed upon by your hiring is a quality end-product.
Sometimes it's not just your employer you need to be legally prepared to handle. Sometimes it's Uncle Sam. Freelance workers pay taxes differently than full time workers. A freelance worker needs to be familiar with a whole new selection of tax terms. "Schedule D," "Class 2 national insurance contributions," and "VAT registration." If you're a freelancer and you don't know what these things mean, you may be botching your taxes to your own disadvantage. Visit the IRS website to brush up on what you need to know to handle your taxes as efficiently as possible.
You are a freelancer because, on some level, you are respecting your own passions. You are dividing your time as you choose to ensure you are able to care for your family and children while generating income. Be sure you know where you stand regarding your legal rights.