This year, a record number of people have cast aside the shackles of paid employment and decided to forge their own path as freelancers. There is nothing quite like being your own boss, and the blooming gig economy provides those with the right skill set, a good work ethic and the courage of their convictions, to work when they like, on what they like and from where they like.
Of course, that word “courage” is used advisedly. Working as a freelancer brings plenty of risks with it. No employment contract means no guaranteed salary at the end of the month. If you don’t do the work, you don’t get paid, that’s fair enough. But what if you do the work perfectly, and the client is still being evasive about coughing up? Chasing clients for money is never fun, but according to The Freelancers Union, more than 70 percent of freelancers say they encounter non-payment issues from time to time. Here are some tips.
Here’s an absolute and indisputable fact. Most people are honest and do not want to stiff you. In your darker moments, you might not believe that, but it’s true. There are all sorts of reasons why they might not have paid, and the majority of them are not sinister. They are away or they didn’t get the invoice or they just plain forgot about it. These things happen, and swearing or threatening legal action is not going to help. Resend the invoice, mention that it would be really helpful if they could settle it within the next day or two and if that doesn’t work, pick up the phone. People are less likely to be evasive when they are speaking to you.
Stop paying the electricity bill, and sooner or later the power will be disconnected. If the non-payment is clearly more than just a slight delay or oversight, you need to take the same approach. Doing another £500 of work for someone who already owes you £2,000 is the equivalent of cutting your finger to watch it bleed. Again, keep it polite but firm. Tell them you’re happy to do more work, but you need the outstanding invoice to be settled before you can get started on it.
Of course, you have a contract in place with all the essential terms in it, right? If so, you can invoke the late payment fees. You might say that if they are not paying you the money they owe you, they won’t pay more on top, but being informed that these charges are going to be added can sometimes be the trigger to getting the bill settled. The main advantage to this sort of clause, however, is to deter late payment in the first place, so make sure it is included in your standard contract.
If all else fails, there is help available. There are different legal courses of action available, and the right one depends on the amount of money at stake. Typically, a couple of hours from a local solicitor to write a letter before action on your behalf can be a worthwhile investment.
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