Essential Documentation for Independent Contractors Outside Deel
Need help onboarding international talent?
- As an independent contractor, you’re responsible for having the proper documentation in a secure place and keeping records of it for your own and audit purposes or in case of a legal dispute.
- Contract provisions and required documents vary based on your country's labor laws, so any generic agreement templates should be checked by experts and adjusted to ensure they're legally valid.
- While it’s possible to manage your documents and ensure their validity outside the Deel platform, it’s easier, faster, and more secure to rely on Deel’s global expertise to ensure protection and compliance.
As an independent contractor, you are responsible for your own social security and medical insurance, as well as tax-related matters. You don’t have the same rights as full-time employees, which is why proper documentation management is crucial for your professional success and protection in potential legal disputes.
The biggest benefit of using Deel is that all this is taken care of for you, so you can focus on doing your best work.
Learn more about key documents, their importance, and how to manage and store them securely when you’re not using Deel.
Understanding the contractor-client relationship
The contractor-client relationship is based on a professional agreement where contractors offer services for payment while remaining independent in managing their schedules and how the work is done.
Unlike employees, independent contractors aren’t protected by statutory rights and benefits that include minimum wages, social security, health insurance, and more.
Although a contract with an independent contractor isn’t required by law in many countries, it’s strongly recommended that every worker has one for their own legal protection.
Contractors bear the responsibility of ensuring this contract is legally sound, with an emphasis on personal safeguards to maintain clarity, security, and fairness in the absence of platform-mediated protections. Keeping records of agreements is vital for dispute resolution.
Did you know you don’t have to be paid on Deel to use the platform as an independent contractor?
All Deel contractors have access to a full suite of tools and features that can support them in their business operations, such as contract creation, enabling them to benefit from Deel while being paid through their preferred channel.
The risks of inadequate documentation
The risks of inadequate documentation are significant and can lead to various legal and financial challenges for you. For example:
- Without a robust contract outlining the scope of work, deliverables, timelines, and payment terms, there's room for misinterpretation and ambiguity that can cause disputes and affect professional relationships
- In the absence of a clear payment agreement documented in a contract, payment conflicts may arise, leading to delays, non-payment, or underpayment
- Inadequate contracts leave independent contractors legally vulnerable as with no explicit terms protecting their rights, they might lack recourse in case of non-payment, project scope changes, or intellectual property disputes
- Insufficient documentation can lead to tax and compliance problems, such as the undefined nature of the contractor-client relationship, which is essential for tax compliance
- Without a contract specifying the ownership and rights to intellectual property created during the engagement, contractors might lose control or ownership of their work
- In the absence of a robust contract, enforcing rights becomes challenging, meaning that you might find it harder to prove your entitlements
To mitigate these risks, having a comprehensive, tailored contract is crucial. It protects both parties involved, no matter where you’re located, and ensures clarity in expectations, safeguards rights and payments, and provides a legal framework for dispute resolution.
You should prioritize creating and maintaining robust contracts to protect your interests and foster professional relationships.
At Deel, we know the importance of customized contracts and make compliance our top priority, regardless of the type of working relationship. Our team of legal experts regularly reviews and updates contracts available on our platform, so you don’t need to spend time exploring labor laws on your own or pay for legal services to make sure your contracts are valid and your documentation is complete.
What should the contract entail?
A valid legal contract goes beyond outlining your scope of work and payment terms. It’s crucial to have it tailored based on your country of residence, primarily because labor laws vary by jurisdiction, and the definition of independent contractors in your country may differ from your client’s.
Scope of work: Clearly defining what the project entails avoids misunderstandings. Tailoring this section to the specifics of the task or project is crucial. Different jurisdictions might have varied interpretations of certain terms or duties, so customization is key.
Payment terms: Detailing payment schedules, methods, and currencies is vital. Compliance with local tax laws, currency regulations, and payment methods specific to a country ensures legality and smooth transactions.
Deliverables and deadlines: Clearly stating what’s expected and by when helps manage expectations. Local holidays, work cultures, or legal timelines might impact deadlines. Customizing these ensures feasibility and adherence to local norms.
Confidentiality clauses: Protecting sensitive information is crucial. Tailoring these clauses according to local data protection laws and cultural norms on confidentiality is essential for enforceability.
Intellectual property (IP): Defining ownership and rights to intellectual property created during the project is vital. Different countries have varied laws regarding IP rights. Some may assume default ownership to the creator, while others may consider it work-for-hire, where the employer owns the created IP. Customizing this ensures clarity and avoids disputes over ownership.
Customization based on the country of residence ensures compliance with local laws, practices, and regulations. Laws regarding labor, taxes, intellectual property, and contract enforceability vary widely. For instance, data protection laws like GDPR in the EU or labor laws in different countries mandate specific clauses and disclosures in contracts.
Working with legal experts well-versed in the country’s laws can be invaluable. They can help navigate the nuances and ensure your contract is not only legally sound but also protective of your interests in a particular jurisdiction. Tailoring contracts isn’t just about legality; it’s about clarity, protection, and fostering strong working relationships.
Deel collaborates with the best legal partners in each country where we enable hiring. Our network of 200+ partners reviews contracts, rules, and regulations constantly to make sure you’re always up-to-date and compliant with local laws.
We’ve also recently launched a Compliance Hub—providing our customers with access to the latest regulatory updates and risk warnings and offering guidance and actionable alerts to enhance compliance.
Essential documentation for independent contractors
There are three types of documents you must have and keep records of as an independent contractor: a contract (independent contractor agreement), invoices, and tax-related documents.
Contracts: Your first line of defense
As we’ve mentioned above, a signed contract acts as a protective shield by clearly outlining the terms of engagement, scope of work, timelines, deliverables, payment details, and intellectual property rights.
Contracts set expectations, mitigate misunderstandings, and serve as a reference in case of disputes. They provide a legal framework, establishing the contractor-client relationship and safeguarding both parties' interests.
Customization based on the project and jurisdiction ensures clarity and compliance, offering a solid foundation for a successful engagement.
Invoices: Tracking your payments
Invoices play a crucial role in an independent contractor's financial management. They serve as a formal request for payment and document the services provided, the agreed-upon rates, payment terms, and the client's details.
Properly formatted invoices help maintain accurate financial records, enabling contractors to track payments, outstanding balances, and income. Also, invoices contribute to the professional image of your as a contractor (business owner), ensuring clarity and transparency in financial transactions between parties.
Learn more about what elements invoices must contain and how to invoice your clients.
We’ve recently launched Deel Bookkeeping, a suite of new products, such as Invoice Generator and Expense Tracker, to help contractors anywhere manage their financial life. From generating professional invoices and managing work expenses to filing local taxes, we’re here to help contractors like you through the process.
Tax documents: Staying compliant with regulations
Accurate tax documentation is essential for independent contractors to comply with local tax regulations. This includes maintaining records of income, expenses, receipts, and relevant tax forms (such as 1099s in the US or equivalents in other countries).
These documents facilitate tax filing, ensuring compliance with tax authorities and avoiding potential penalties or audits. You should diligently keep track of your earnings and expenses, making use of accounting software or professional services to streamline the process and ensure accuracy in tax filings.
When using Deel, contractors can see right in their dashboard what tax documentation is required for full compliance, based on their country of residence. For example, the W-8BEN form if you’re based outside the US and are collaborating with a US company.
Deel contractors from selected countries can access the Tax Advice feature, where they can speak to qualified tax advisors when they need assistance.
Best practices for contractor documentation management
We’re sharing a few tips on how to keep documentation organized, secure, and easily accessible, such as using cloud storage or document management systems.
Keep a digital trail of your documents
Using cloud storage or document management systems allows for easy access to files from anywhere with internet connectivity. It ensures document security through encryption and access controls, reducing the risk of physical loss or damage. Digitization also enables efficient organization and searchability, simplifying the retrieval of specific documents when needed.
Note: When using Deel, you can access your complete documentation, including invoices and transactions, at all times.
📖 See also: Top 11 Benefits of Getting Paid Through Deel
Regularly update information
Consistently reviewing and updating documentation is crucial. As services, rates, or project scopes evolve, contracts, invoices, and other documents must reflect these changes accurately. Scheduled reviews, perhaps quarterly or after significant project milestones, help ensure that all documentation remains aligned with the current state of agreements and services.
Understand international laws and standards
Working with international clients can complicate contracts and payments, as different legal frameworks may apply. Familiarizing oneself with international legal standards, such as those related to contracts, intellectual property, and data protection, is helpful, especially if you work and travel, work from different countries and are subject to different laws. Consulting legal experts experienced in international law or the specific country's regulations can provide invaluable guidance in drafting contracts that comply with cross-border legalities.
Currency exchange and payment terms
Dealing with multiple currencies requires clear payment terms to avoid financial discrepancies. Using internationally recognized payment platforms or specifying currency conversion methods in contracts helps establish clarity. Clearly outlining exchange rates, acceptable payment methods, and any associated fees minimizes misunderstandings regarding financial transactions.
Note: With Deel, you can choose the currency in which you want to get paid to protect yourself from local currency fluctuations. You can also get paid in cryptocurrencies.
Streamline documentation management with Deel
As an independent contractor, you may be working with multiple clients, juggling several projects simultaneously, and trying to stay on top of bookkeeping responsibilities around the work you do, which can be overwhelming.
Using a single platform to manage your tax and compliance documents, transactions, and invoices can take a lot of that burden off your shoulders.
Deel allows you to automate your invoicing process, manage all your transactions and expenses in one place, keep your documentation stored securely on our platform, manage multiple clients, choose among different withdrawal methods, and more.
Not to mention that being a Deel user comes with many benefits, like Deel Card, Deel Advance, and numerous discounts and vouchers for different in-store and online services, including excellent health insurance in many locations in the world.
Sign up for our platform today to take your contractor experience to a whole new level.