Freelancer Agreements in South Africa

If you work for yourself, and you’re not necessarily committed to an employer or organisation, then you are considered a freelancer. 

Here are some of the contracts you would typically need as a freelancer. 

Service Level Agreement

If you’re providing services to clients you’ve probably heard about SLAs, or maybe you’ve even been a party to one, sometimes without being sure why you need one.

SLA is short for Service Level Agreement. It is an agreement that sets out the deliverables that you, as a freelancer have agreed to provide to your client as well as the deliverables for the client.

You would need an SLA if you are rendering services to a client and you would like to outline the expectations of both you and your client. For example, a photographer who has been hired to shoot a client’s event or a social media influencer who has been asked to promote a brand. 

The following concepts should be included in Service Level Agreement:

  1. Commencement, Duration and Termination- this includes when the agreement will come into effect, for how long the agreement will be in existence for and how the agreement will be terminated.

  2. Services- this includes a summary of the services, to whom the services will be delivered, and sometimes how the success of that service is to be measured.

  3. Service Variation- you should include details of when and how material changes can be made the services, including how fees will be adjusted in such an instance. 

  4. Fees- details of fee amounts agreed upon and the details of when, how often and how payment will be made should be included. If a deposit will be required by the freelancer, the details of that deposit should be provided. 

  5. Force Majeure Event- includes the consequences of a force majeure event that may prevent the parties from performing as agreed.  

  6. Intellectual Property- provide details about who has ownership over the intellectual property rights that arise from services rendered by the freelancer. 

  7. Boilerplate Clauses- standard clauses including but not limited to; Domicilium and Notices, Non- Waiver, Assignment, Governing Law and Jurisdiction and Dispute Resolution Procedures.

As a freelancer it is important that you have an enforceable SLA between yourself and your clients to assist in smoothening up the already bumpy road of freelancing. As a freelancer, whether you’re well established or just starting out, you want to ensure that the position of both yourself and your client are clearly defined from the onset to avoid disputes that may be too expensive for you. It is also important that your SLA provides for the how disagreements may be resolved, other than settling the matters in court, which will be too expensive for you as a freelancer. 

One of the biggest challenges that freelancers face is late payments and even non-payments. Having an SLA that provides a penalty for late or non-payments and is important to ensure that the client is legally bound to the terms both parties agreed to.

To ensure that your SLA is legally binding and enforceable, it should be carefully drafted, reduced to writing and signed by all parties. To relieve yourself of this burden, you can create a version of a Service Level Agreement that is perfectly suited to your needs as a freelancer, within a few minutes, here. 

Independent Contractor Agreement

As a freelancer, you may often be told by clients that they are willing to hire you as an independent contractor and you may not fully understand what that means or what should be included in an Independent Contractor Agreement. 

An Independent contractor is a person/ business who is contracted to perform work or provide services to another for compensation. Independent contractors do not work regularly for an employer but rather as and when they are required. Examples of independent contractors who may need an Independent Contractor Agreement include, freelance writers and construction workers. 

An Independent Contractor Agreement provides for the terms of working between the freelance independent contractor and their client. You should ensure that your Independent Contractor Agreement includes the following:

  1. What services you the independent contractor is to provide.

  2. The commencement date duration that the contract is set to run.

  3. How the agreement may be terminated.

  4. The agreed fees and how you the independent contractor are to be paid.

  5. Provisions pertaining to intellectual property.

  6. Boilerplate clauses - standard clauses including but not limited to; Domicilium and Notices, Non- Waiver, Assignment, Governing Law and Jurisdiction and Dispute Resolution Procedures.

It is important that you as a freelancer know what it means to be an independent contractor as opposed to be an employee. These differences include that 

  • An independent contractor may have more than one customer/client at a time, while an employee may not. 

  • An independent contractor sends out invoices for work completed whereas an employee receives a salary.

  • An independent contractor does not receive tools or equipment from the customer while an employee does. 

  • An independent contractor works on a fixed term basis.

  • An independent contractor may hire employees or subcontract while an employee cannot.

  • An independent contractor does not receive employment benefits like employees 

  • An independent contractor is responsible for their own statutory obligations such as taxes. 

An enforceable Independent Contractor Agreement is important to ensure that you are clearly defined as an independent contractor. This is especially beneficial in instances where the freelancer works for many different people or entities or when you want subcontract work. The Independent Contractor Agreement gives you the necessary freedom to work on different projects simultaneously as opposed to the traditional employment agreement, freedom which you may require especially when you’re starting out. When freelancing you want to ensure you get paid for your services and with an Independent Contractor Agreement your customer/ client is bound by the terms and will be obligated to pay up for services rendered. 

An Independent Contractor Agreement should be reduced to writing and signed by both parties.

We’ve made it easier for you! You can create a version of a customised Independent Contractor Agreement that is perfectly suited to you here.

A question often posed; what the difference between an SLA and Independent Contractor Agreement is.

An SLA is mainly about performance measuring and outlines the deliverables between the freelancer and the client. An SLA is required for projects and does not create any kind labour relationship between the freelancer and the client. 

An Independent Contractor Agreement creates a relationship that is similar to that of an employment relationship.

As a freelancer you would decide to use an SLA for once off projects, whereas you would opt for an Independent Contractor Agreement when the work that you will be doing is continuous but required on an ad hoc basis. 

Mutual NDA 

If you’ve done any project, where you work with confidential information, you’ll be familiar with an NDA.

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary information agreement (PIA) or secrecy agreement (SA), is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to.

The mutual NDA is when both parties are restricted in their use of the materials provided, or they can restrict the use of material by a single party.

In this agreement you and your client/customer agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement. The NDA creates a confidential relationship between you and the other party, typically to protect any type of confidential and/or proprietary information or trade secrets. The NDA protects non-public business information. 

If you are considering doing business and need to understand the processes used in your and or the other party’s business for the purpose of evaluating the potential business relationship you may enter into an NDA before even starting business with you client or customer. 

Once you’ve entered an NDA, you may share sensitive information without fear that it will end up in the hands of your competitors and if it does, you will have a right to recourse. 

Here are some of the key concepts you want to ensure are included in your NDA:

  1. Identification of the parties- there should be a clear and straightforward description of who the parties who will be disclosing information.

  2. Definition of what is deemed to be confidential- it is important that the agreement states whether it will be all information relating to the businesses that will be confidential or whether only the information that is marked confidential will be considered confidential.

  3. The exclusions from confidential treatment- this is intended to address situations where it would be unfair or too burdensome for the other side to keep the information confidential should be included, such as information that is already public or when compelled by law to disclose the information.

  4. The term of the agreement- it should stated whether the information in question is confidential for a fixed term or for an indefinite period of time.

  5. Non-Solicitation- an undertaking by parties that they will not use the confidential information they know for their own benefit, by means that include but are not limited to, poaching clients and staff. 

  6. Boilerplate clauses - standard clauses including but not limited to; Domicilium and Notices, Non- Waiver, Assignment, Governing Law and Jurisdiction and Dispute Resolution Procedures.

As a freelancer, your position in business may be weaker than that of other businesses that are bigger and more established and thus is it important that your confidential information is protected to avoid putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage.

NDAs are not limited a specific freelancer, any freelancer who is sharing confidential information with their clients should consider entering one. If you find yourself in situation where the information you have to share with your client is confidential and the disclosure of that information would cripple you and your business, then you should consider entering a One-Sided NDA. If your client will also be sharing confidential information, then a Mutual NDA is advisable. However, if you feel like it is not necessary for you enter an NDA with your clients, your information will be still be protected because most agreements still include a confidentiality clause for your protection.  

Not sure how to draft an NDA? Not to worry, at Hello Contract we’ve made it easier for you. You can create your own customised NDA within minutes here. 

Copyright Assignment 

A copyright is a collection of rights that vest to someone who creates an original work. Examples of original work include a literary work, song, movie or software. A copyright allows you the right to reproduce the work, to distribute copies, to prepare derivative works and to perform and display the work publicly. Copyright can subsist over countless work by you as a freelancer, from your writings to software or app development, the list is endless. 

Copyright owners, such as yourself, can also transfer or assign their rights. Copyright assignment allows a third party, known as the assignee, to take ownership of the copyright from the owner, or assignor. In order for the assignment to be valid it should be reduced to writing in what is known as a Copyright Assignment Agreement. 

Copyright assignment agreements provide for the assignment of copyright from one party to the other. You would need a Copyright Assignment Agreement when you want to pass on your copyright to another person or organisation. For example, if you design an application for a client or even for yourself and would like someone else to have the copyright over that application.

In your Copyright Assignment Agreement, the following should be included:

  1. The rights that you will be ceding, assigning or transferring should be detailed.

  2. Specification on whether the assignment will be for all or partial rights.

  3. The duration of the copyright and the territory of the copyright should also be stated.

  4. You should agree to waive in favour of the assignee, or any successor in title, any moral rights which may vest in the copyrighted work. 

  5. You should warrant that the copyrighted work is original, copyright subsists in the work, the owner has not ceded, transferred or assigned the copyrights to any other party and the agreement does not infringe any copyright. 

  6. The assignee should accept the rights assigned, ceded, transferred or made over to them for the avoidance of doubt.

  7. A declaration that you shall, when called upon to do so by the assignee, provide all reasonable information, materials, co-operation and/or assistance to the assignee to enable the assignee to prove the subsistence of the rights in copyright and the assignee’s title to such rights in copyright wherever such proof may be reasonably required.

Drafting a Copyright Assignment Agreement can be difficult. Fortunately for you, it will only take you a few minutes. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and our document generation software will automatically compile a Copyright Assignment Agreement.

Acknowledgement of Debt 

You’ve properly been frustrated with a client who promises to pay up but continues to default on their payments. One of the ways to bind your clients to pay up is by an Acknowledgement of Debt.  

An acknowledgement of debt, commonly referred to as an “AOD”, is a document which contains an explicit admission of liability by the debtor.  In it the debtor acknowledges that they owe a particular sum of money to the creditor and undertakes to repay what is owing. An AOD requires no more than this in order for it to be legally valid and binding on the signatory.  

You would want typically want your client to sign an AOD when they are late in paying or when want to be clear about how much they owe you, when they should pay you and your right of recourse should they not pay. 

You should ensure your Acknowledgement to Debt has the following:

  1. A clear indication how much is owed, when and how it shall be paid. 

  2. Whether or not interest will be charged.

  3. A statement providing that the document serves as prima facie proof of the debtor’s obligation. 

  4. A statement by the debtor stating that should they default on any one of the required payments in terms of the Acknowledgment of Debt payment, the balance which remains outstanding in respect of the debt together with interest becomes due immediately. 

  5. Boilerplate clauses 

If you find yourself needing an Acknowledgment of Debt Agreement, you shouldn’t have to go through the additional stress of drafting the document. At Hello Contract, you can create a version of an Acknowledgment of Debt Agreement that is perfectly suited to your needs. All that you need to do is select the appropriate document that you would like to generate, answer a few questions, and our document generation software will automatically compile the Acknowledgment of Debt Agreement here. 

Letter of Demand for Unpaid Invoices 

As a freelancer, every invoice counts and so the last thing you need is an unpaid invoice or a client who does not honour their obligations. In such an instance you would send your debtor a Letter of Demand.

A demand letter is an important first-step in a proceeding for debt recovery before legal action.

A demand letter, or overdue payment letter, states how much is owed, what for and when the invoice needs to be paid.

It may also include a warning that you will consider legal action if the debt is not paid by a date.

Letter of demand for money owed to you is an important step to attempt to resolve your debt recovery matter without investing your limited time and expense into commercial litigation or alternative dispute resolution.

When chasing after that unpaid invoice, you shouldn’t have to go through the additional stress of drafting the document. At Hello Contract, you can create a version of a Letter of Demand that is perfectly suited to your needs. All that you need to do is select the appropriate document that you would like to generate, answer a few questions, and our document generation software will automatically compile the Letter of Demand here.

Website Terms and Conditions 

Website Terms and Conditions govern the use of a website by visitors, it’s about how the website should be used. 

As a freelancer you may think that Website Terms and Conditions are for big organisations, but the reality is that any business with an online presence, even those which are not actually selling goods or services on their website should set out the terms of use for their website.

While it is not a requirement by law for you to have Website Terms and Conditions, ensuring that your users understand the limitations of how they can use any website content, including text, images, videos and music, helps to secure your intellectual property.

You may be considering developing a website for many reasons, selling, marketing, awareness, the list is endless. Here’s what a general Website Terms and Conditions should contain:

  1. Details of website owner and their contact information.

  2. The Restrictions that exist in the website  

  3. The position regarding any content shared by users on the website. 

  4. Registration requirements, including password and other security measures

  5. Any necessary fees which need to be paid to use the website

  6. If links are provided to other websites, there should be a disclaimer of liability for content on any linked sites

  7. If your website allows user comments or enables any forms of user generated content, it’s important to request that users do not post anything illegal or which could be considered defamatory or abusive.

  8. An express statement against warranties on products of the website, such as downloads. 

  9. An express statement that provides that you will nor be liable for any damage or loss suffered by users from using the website.

  10. Boilerplate clauses. 

Creating your Website Terms and Conditions has been made easier. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and our document generation software will automatically compile a customised Website Terms and Conditions. 

Website Privacy Policy 

A privacy policy is a statement contained on a website that details how the operators of the site will collect, store, protect, and utilize personal data provided by its users.

The definition of personal data is should be provided and in the policy.

In addition to outlining how you will use the information, the policy includes how it will meet its legal obligations, and how those sharing their data can seek recourse should the company fail to meet those responsibilities.

You’re probably thinking, I’m just a freelancer I don’t need a website privacy policy but if you have a website and you gather any data about your users, even if its just through tracking their location then you are required by law to have a Website Privacy Policy. Whether your website tracks users' behaviour through cookies, or just send out occasional newsletters, the policy is required.

You should ensure that your Website Privacy Policy has the following:

  1. The exact information that will be collected from website users, which may include names, physical or e-mail addresses, IP addresses, and telephone numbers, and location tracking.

  2. If cookies are being used on the site, how to opt-out of them, and what effect this might have on the user's experience.

  3. How the information will be collected, and by whom, for example, if it is being collected by an advertising program.

  4. How the information will be used, including if it will be shared with third parties.

  5. How the information is protected from misuse or unauthorized access.

  6. How to opt-out of data sharing, along with the potential consequences of doing so.

  7. Boilerplate clauses.

Getting a Website Privacy policy is simple. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and our document generation software will automatically compile the South African Law and/or GDPR Compliant Website Privacy Policy here. 

BEEE Affidavit

A BEEE-rating certificate is a document that indicates a company's level of BEEE compliance. A level one contributor is the highest achievable status and the lowest level of BEEE compliance is level eight. The higher the BEEE status level, the stronger a company is in relation to its competition.

A company needs a BEEE-rating certificate to prove their level of BEE status. The certificate includes indicators such as the company’s turnover, the level of black ownership and the overall BEEE status.

The certificate is valid for a year and renewed annually based on evidence submitted for BEEE implementation during the period under measurement.

In 2011, the Minister of Finance, at the time, ruled that a company cannot conduct business with municipalities, government departments and any state-owned entities without a valid BEEE-rating certificate. 

As a freelancer, if you ever want to conduct business with government or state-owned enterprises, it is mandatory for you to have BEEE Affidavit. Even if you won’t be getting into business with the government, any other person or organisation you supply will benefit from you being BEEE compliant. 

Other businesses can use their BEEE-rating certificate to claim procurement spent with BEEE compliant suppliers. In order to claim, companies have to buy from BEE compliant suppliers to score points for BEE procurement spent. If you, as a freelancer don’t have a BEEE-rating certificate, your customers will look for a BEE compliant supplier which will be bad for business.

You don’t have to draft your BEEE Affidavit yourself. At Hello Contract, we have a BEEE that is perfect for you. All you have to do is answer a few questions, and our document generation software will automatically compile the BEEE Affidavit here. 

Moveable Rental/Lease Agreement 

You may have found yourself in a situation where you need movable property such as a camera or sound equipment but will only be needing it for a short space of time, or simply cannot afford the cost of the item that you need as a freelancer. In such a case you would rent/ lease moveable property from someone or an organisation. That transaction is governed by a Moveable Rental/Lease Agreement.

A Moveable Rental/Lease Agreement is a document that outlines the arrangement between lessor, someone who lends items and someone else that is willing to pay rent while using the items, known as lessee. It’s a document that allows you to use moveable property for a period of time in exchange for periodic rent. 

Below are some of the instances in which you would typically need a Moveable Rental/Lease Agreement:

  • With a shortage of current capital and need of funding. 

  • Wanting to test a certain product.

  • When thinking of a purchase option.

There are many advantages of renting/leasing moveable property which include:

  • Payments are made periodically which leaves you as a freelancer with more disposable income. 

  • You are relieved of the costs of the depreciation of the value of the property.

  • Involves less paperwork and requirements for the contracting. 

  • You enjoy the benefits of a property as and when you feel like it. 

A Moveable Rental/Lease Agreement is a great for a freelancer, especially those who are just starting out because it allows you to use the items that you may need but cannot afford to buy while still leaving you with the much needed disposable income.

The following should be included in your Moveable Rental/Lease Agreement:

  1. Item(s)- A clear description of the items that will be leased should be stated. 

  2. Commencement, duration and extension- The agreement should state clearly when you will be leasing the items and how that time can be extended if need be.

  3. Rental- The details of how much you will be required to pay, when and how should be included. 

  4. Interest- It is important that you know whether or not you will be charged interest for overdue payments.

  5. Return of items- Details of when and how you should return the items should be clearly provided. 

  6. Warranties- The lessor should warrant that there is nothing that prevents the items from being leased, while you, as the lessee warrant that you will use the items as agreed. 

  7. Damage- The consequences of damage to the items must be provided. 

  8. Boilerplate clauses- standard clauses including but not limited to; Domicilium and Notices, Non- Waiver, Assignment, Governing Law and Jurisdiction and Dispute Resolution Procedures.