More Florida business owners are taking advantage of the services of freelancers and remote workers to assist with various aspects of operations, and statistics on growth of the so-called “gig” economy reveal that the trend is here to stay. Hiring gig workers gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it had already doubled in size from 2013-2019. Freelancers now produce almost 6 percent of the US gross domestic product. Half of companies currently work with gig workers on a regular basis, while 4 in 5 organizations state that they plan to do so in the short-term future.
There are numerous benefits of retaining freelancers, but pitfalls abound. Misclassification between employee and independent contractor is a concern, and you have interests to protect just as you would when dealing with a vendor or partner. Fortunately, you can trust a Clearwater contracts lawyer can explain the details and assist with drafting the essential terms to include in gig worker contracts.
1. Scope of Work
When your intent is to operate under a gig worker arrangement, it is critical to maintain the clear distinction between employee and independent contractor. It is not enough to apply a label, pay by 1099, or use the title “Independent Contractor Agreement.” Officials will always look to the reality of the relationship for purposes of misclassification. The scope of work should detail what you expect as deliverables, in accordance with a specific timeline. However, avoid providing direction on how to achieve the objectives. Too much control over a remote worker or outcome could lean toward that person being treated as an employee.
2. General Agreement
Your gig worker contract must include payment terms, whether by project, hourly, or other bases. A freelance agreement should also provide that independent contractors:
- Are responsible for their own expenses and equipment;
- Must handle their individual taxes and insurance; and
- Are not eligible for benefits extended to regular employees.
3. Details on Intellectual Property
If your freelancer will have access to confidential information of your company or its customers, the gig worker contract should incorporate essential protections for:
- Trade secrets;
- Customer lists;
- Marketing strategies;
- Software and algorithms;
- Writings, drawings, and other items subject to copyright laws; and
- Many other forms of IP.
Your independent contractor agreement should prohibit downloading, sharing, or other use of intellectual property for financial gain.
4. Noncompete Clauses
Restrictive covenants may not be necessary in every industry, but they add a level of protection when you have concerns about a freelancer working with your competitors. A non-compete lawyer can advise you on restrictive covenants, which must usually be limited in scope in order for courts to enforce them.
A St. Petersburg, FL Business Law Attorney Can Assist with Contracts
By including these and other essential terms in a contract with a gig worker, you clarify your relationship and protect your interests. To learn more about the legal issues involved with freelancers, please call Clearwater Business Law to set up a consultation. Individuals in Pinellas County can call (727) 469-3726 to speak with one of our Florida contract law attorneys.