Contract Work and Contracts

I do some work on the side for charities and small businesses. Most of this work would be referred to as “contract work” where I am brought in to do a particular task, for a specified amount of money, to be completed by a target date. With some of my clients, I have a formal contract, with others, not.

I don’t always work under contract, although the exceptions to that rule are becoming few and far between. A contract is binding on both parties, and it is in your best interest to always have one. Here are a few examples of how you, as the contract worker, benefit from that piece of paper:

  • Guaranteed rate: no more arguing about how much you are entitled to
  • Guaranteed work: no more changing requirements and trying to claim you agreed to do so in the initial work agreement
  • Guaranteed responsibility: no more wondering about who owns what at the end of the project

From the client’s perspective, a contract is likewise of immense benefit:

  • Guaranteed rate: no more arguing about how much you owe for the work
  • Guaranteed work: no more hidden fees for work you asked for initially
  • Guaranteed responsibility: no more wondering about who owns what at the end of the project

Additionally, a contract can include additional information regarding maintenance costs, support after the project is complete, and dates for completion. As a client, you may want to include information about what happens if a date is missed. As a contractor, you may want to specify what happens if payments are late.

The reason I occassionally work without a contract is simple. Looking through dozens of templates online, it is difficult to locate the appropriate contract for your location and the specific work you are doing. However, recently, I was sent 6 contract agreements for my current jurisdiction (Ontario, Canada) which cover issues surrounding non-disclosure and release of information. These became the basis of what was to become my set of templates for all contracts.

If you are looking to put together some templates, locate a generic non-disclosure agreement for your jurisdiction. Add a section describing the work to be completed (your requirements section), fees to be paid (including maintenance and expense fees), and dates of all deliverables, and what they are. For each section, ensure you cover in detail what is included, and how changes to that section must be negotiated.

For example, you may be building a website for a client (note that I am not a lawyer, and the following is meant for illustration purposes only):

  1. Requirements: To construct a 6 page website describing the client’s business. The information for each page will be provided in electronic form by the client. The text for each page will not exceed 750 words. There will be 5 e-mail accounts set up for the site. Hosting will be arranged by the contractor through SuperWebHosting.com and the client will absorb all fees associated with hosting the site. Images will be provided by the clientin jpg format, to a maximum of 4 images per page. Graphic design is not included, and all graphic design work will be done by the client.
  2. Fees: The cost to set up the website specified in the requirements is $250.00 and is payable on delivery of the site. Once the text for each of the pages has been provided, one change to each page following publication will be included, provided the change is requested with 60 days of publication. 2 hours of telephone and e-mail consultation is included. Non-payment within 10 business days of publication of the site will result in a $25.00 late fee. Non-payment within 60 days of publication will result in a further $25.00 late fee.
  3. Deliverables: The contractor will provide the client with all files required to publish the site, and all source material created for the purposes of creating the website. This will be completed within 30 days of the client delivering the final wording of all pages to the contractor. The client will provide this wording within 10 business days of the signing of this contract.