Company won’t pay freelance: ask the expert


I am a freelance graphic designer and I was asked to complete an urgent assignment in Paris, leaving the same night, and working three complete days. On my return I invoiced straight away. Two weeks later I am now told that the company cannot pay me unless I am either a Limited Company or using an Umbrella Service. They did not make either myself or my colleague aware of this before we undertook the assignment. In fact, I would have turned it down. It is not in my interests to become Limited or in fact use an Umbrella service. What should I do?

Answer by Dave Chaplin

The firm must pay you, as a contract has been formed, and you have completed the work. They cannot dispute you haven’t done the work because they are agreeing to pay you. Also, they openly admit they didn’t state beforehand that they only paid via umbrellas and limited companies.

You need to remind them that you never agreed to that, and that the firm cannot change terms either during or after the contract is complete. If they still don’t pay then you need to follow correct process: start by using a credit collection agency (Safe Solutions are good). If that fails then use a letter before action and then the small claims court via Moneyclaim Online.

You should ensure that before you go legal that you have all the evidence necessary to win, and also take professional legal advice. As always with these things the devil is in the details. Typically in a clear cut case the firm won’t allow things to go to court and using a credit collection agency will solve it.

daveDave Chaplin is CEO of He has lived and breathed contracting since he first took the plunge and became a professional contractor in 1997. Dave then spent seven years working as an IT contractor in the City of London on critical, cutting edge IT infrastructure and development projects for global players. Since launching ContractorCalculator in 2004, Dave has consulted with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), HM Treasury and HM Revenue and Customs on the future of IR35 and on tax simplification. He has become a contracting guru influencing new generations of contractors through and the popular Contractors’ Handbook. He has also been a regular participant in industry-shaping events, and Dave regularly lectures and presents on successful contracting. He has joined Workingmums' expert panel on our Advice & Support page, so if you have any queries about contracting, you can email him there. Meet our Panel of Experts

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