Being a freelancer can be a very liberating experience, yet with all that freedom comes responsibility and occasionally loneliness. I’ve been doing this for more than twelve years and it isn’t just a case of being a copywriter and writing, I need to know about current law around compliance, GDPR etc AND more! In this blog post, I’m going to take a look at some of the key components of being compliant as a freelancer to ensure you don’t get yourself in hot water along the way.
If you’re used to being paid as an employee, then you will be used to having your tax deducted prior to it reaching your account. However, as a freelancer, you are responsible for paying your own tax, and as such, you can find yourself in quite a predicament if you forget, or spend it, prior to it being due. This is something that you need to make a good habit early on.
On the plus side, there are many companies such as Qdos Accounting that can not only help you to remain compliant but can help reduce the amount of tax you do pay, as the majority of business expenses are tax deductible. This is a complex area, particularly when it comes down to aspects like home offices. I did my own books/accounts in the early years and I have to say that employing an accountant was by far one of the best business decisions I made.
No matter how large or small your business, there’s a good chance that GDPR is going to affect you. The GDPR is in place to make data processors more responsible for the information people give them, in this sense, it extends beyond most basic data protection policies and is in place to stop people abusing the information they hold. It is important to keep on top of GDPR in terms of being compliant with legislation in your business. To no do this could cost you money, your reputation and land you in hot water. None of this is good when you just want to get on with your freelance work.
The law of contract is pretty simple. The reason a contract exists is to protect both parties entering into it, and the most important aspect is to clearly define the tasks and expectations; both in terms of requirements and reward. This way, everyone knows where they stand and if there is an issue down the line, you can both refer to the contract agreed to in the first instance.
In simple terms, a contract is the exchange of promises between parties. Despite this so many freelancers I speak to don’t have contracts with their clients. Make this a priority if you want to protect yourself and your business.
This is a particularly pertinent aspect of law for freelancers. Misrepresentation is simply misrepresenting something material, for instance, it could be a qualification or something you have said the customer will get in order to induce them into sale. If you are found to be misrepresenting yourself the contract is likely to be rescinded (withdrawn) and the other party is unlikely to be held responsible for paying you any money. The key is to be transparent. Don’t say you can do something when you can’t, and basically do not lie about any aspect of your business.
Finally, negligence is where you carry out work without a reasonable standard of care. Negligence when driving is when a person is found to be driving without due care and attention, which is similar in business, in that if you make a mistake that isn’t intentional but was a little reckless you could be guilty of negligence.
If you are accused of being negligent, then the other party is likely seeking damages to compensate them for any loss suffered as a result of your negligence. It, therefore, pays to take this aspect seriously, and many freelancers know the importance of being able to demonstrate they took reasonable steps to ensure no negligence occurred. Good insurance is a must when you are a freelancer, as is, of course, being compliant.
These sorts of things aren’t what you went into business for and they don’t come up when you imagine your perfect working day. Ensuring that you are compliant in all of these areas is an important part of being a freelancer so don’t get caught out.