No matter what industry you serve, self-employment involves financial risk. Your income and workload may vary throughout the year. Securing earnings for each project or client is often critical to success.

Unfortunately, even if you are a well-established and experienced consultant, clients may not necessarily treat you with the same deference that they would give to a large corporation. However, you have legal recourse when a client fails to pay you in full and on schedule.

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act provides rights to independent contractors, consultants and freelancers. There are a few strategies that you can employ to exercise these rights, ensuring that you obtain fair payment for your work.

Draft an effective contract

Your contract will set the expectations for your work and payment, so it should include:

  • The scope of your work
  • Relevant timelines for work as well as the client’s payment obligations
  • The amount and specific form of payment
  • Any variable costs and liability for unexpected expenses

If a dispute regarding payment arises between you and your client, the initial contract will be a valuable resource toward a resolution. An attorney can help you include all the important details of the agreement. It is also important to note that an invoice and a contract serve different purposes.

Hold clients legally accountable for late or missing payments

Your client could fail to honor your agreement, and professional communication might not always lead to a resolution. When a client owes you for completed work, you become a creditor. Therefore, you can begin assessing your collection options once it is clear that the client refuses to pay their balance.

Pursuing collection action may be awkward, but it is sometimes necessary to protect your rights and the value of your work. Note that New York City protects freelance workers against retaliation for seeking fair payment within the Freelance Isn’t Free Act.