Because you are not an employee, most of the employment laws discussed in this book will not apply to you. If your client will not adhere to a written contract that he or she has signed, you may ultimately need to sue the client in a local civil court on the issue of breach of contract.
Before you start a court fight, you should find out if the client has a problem with the services that you performed. If the issue is merely that the client feels something is still in error on your project, it may be cheaper for you to fix the problem in order to get your money. If the issue is that the client did not provide you with the proper equipment, perhaps the manufacturer is the problem or there is just a misunderstanding.
If the problem is not something that you can fix, you may want to send a certified letter to the client reminding him or her of the obligations under the contract that he or she signed, and giving a deadline to either follow the terms of the contract or deal with your attorney. You might then want to find a local attorney who handles contract breach litigation in your local court.
Many independent contractors who use contracts with clients make the mistake of not putting provisions into the contract for client problems, such as nonpayment. In order to protect yourself, these items must be addressed in accordance with your local laws.
The following are some examples of issues that should be addressed in an independent contractor’s agreement with their client.
• Each contract should be specifically tailored to detail what both the client and what the independent contractor are required to supply and the date these items will be available. There should also be some direction as to what will happen and who will be financially liable if these items are not ready on time.
• Each contract should list exactly what the independent contractor is to do in detail. This should include the goals of the project according to the client, how the client will measure or determine that the project is complete, and how the client intends to determine if the project is a success.
• Each contract should specify who will sign off on the project for the client and what steps will be taken if the client refuses to sign off. An independent contractor does not want to spend the rest of his or her career working for one very picky client who refuses to pay the independent contractor, so this must be very detailed. Some contracts may contain a clause that requires professional arbitration for disagreements that cannot be resolved in a short period of time.
• Each contract should detail the hours the independent contractor will work, location, and what happens when the contractor needs time off.
• Each contract should specify the amount of payment and how it is calculated. There should be provisions for late payments and nonpayment. Late payments may include a grace period and an interest percentage (to be exercised at the option of the independent contractor), which is added to the owed amount. For issues of nonpayment, there should be an indication that the independent contractor has the option to take the matter to court and go after the money owed, interest on that money, and the contractor’s attorney fees.