The freelancer is no longer neededMost written contracts have a termination section. It explains the circumstances in which you can terminate the contract and, for example, how much notice you have to give. If don?t have a written contract with the freelancer, and only have a verbal agreement, the chances are this isn?t something you will have discussed. If a notice period hasn?t been specifically agreed, you have to give them a ?reasonable? amount of notice. The trouble is, you and the freelancer may not agree what?s reasonable. You may think a week is reasonable but the freelancer may disagree. They may think that a month, or even longer, is reasonable and try to sue you for three or more weeks? pay. Therefore, you may need to err on the side of caution when deciding what is reasonable. If the freelancer thinks they?re an employee, they will think they have legal protection against being laid off. Dismissing an employee because you no longer need them usually involves making them redundant and paying redundancy pay. If you don?t follow the correct procedure and you don?t follow it fairly, they could threaten a claim for unfair dismissal.
The quality of work is sub-standardWhen you hire a freelancer, it?s likely to be for a specific piece of work with a clear objective. If they don?t achieve this objective they?re likely to be in breach of contract. In most cases this doesn?t mean you can simply terminate the relationship there and then. You should give the freelancer notice that you consider them to be in breach of contract (again this needs to be reasonable notice if you don?t have a written contract) and give them the opportunity to put the problems right. If they can?t or they don?t, then you can let them go and you may have the right to claim again them. When you hire an employee it?s likely to be for an ongoing role so if there are issues with the standard of their work you need to consider how you can help them. For example, do they need more training or more support to be able to do what is asked of them. If you fire an employee (or a freelancer who thinks they?re an employee) without trying to help them you could once again face a claim.
Conduct is a problemFreelancers don?t have employment rights such as, for example, the right to sick pay. If a freelancer doesn?t carry out the tasks you have asked them, you don?t have to pay them and you can let them go. Even if they?re ill. If the freelancer thinks they?re an employee, they may try to claim they have the right to sick pay and protection against being dismissed because they?re ill (even if they?re unavailable for long periods of time). So, if you find yourself in any of these situations, what do you do? First you need to be sure of the relationship status. Just because they have the title ?freelancer? it doesn?t mean to say they are. If they are in fact an employee, or if it?s a border line case, you need to be aware of the many different rules and regulations you have to abide by. If you don?t follow them, you?re at a greater risk of legal action. However, just because the freelancer claims to be an employee, you don?t have to give them all of the employment rights they?re asking for if you?re sure they?re not entitled to them. Just because they feel aggrieved and threaten a claim, there?s no guarantee they will win. Having said that, it?s always best to avoid legal action if you can, so if you?re unsure, take proper legal advice. A solicitor will be able to confirm that the freelancer is a true freelancer, or they will be able to advise on the proper procedures to follow if in fact the freelancer should be classed as an employee. If you have any questions about how to fire?a freelancer, email me at email@example.com and I?ll be happy to help.
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