5 Tips to Avoid Unpaid Payments (Free Sample Contract)

As a beginner Remote Filipino Worker, one of the most basic things you’ll learn is that securing payment is one of the biggest challenges that you may face. 

Finding clients who will pay you a fair wage and pay you on time can be hard to come by. This can be especially challenging when your potential clients are from a different country where it is impractical or even impossible to reach them in the event that they decide to run off without paying you for your service. 

Ensuring you avoid unpaid payments is something that you normally master over time and you usually learn it the hard way. However, there’s no need to make the same mistakes as the other freelancers that came before you.

In this guide, you’ll learn 5 tips that you can follow to improve your chances of getting paid every time you deal with clients.

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Photo by Mari Gimenez on Unsplash

Tip #1: Use a Platform That Provides Payment Protection:

A) Websites that Provide Hard-Coded Protection from Unpaid Payments

Platform Description Kind of Protection
Online job marketplace where employers/clients post their job listings so that freelancers and remote workers can apply for the said jobs
Time tracker and work diary for monitoring of employee/freelancer work. This system guarantees that you are paid for the time that you put in your work.
Online job marketplace where freelancers can post and market their services so that potential clients can hire them.
When clients order from you, they pay Fiverr immediately. This guarantees that their transaction with you is properly funded. Once that order is completed, 80% of the funds are assigned to your account. You will get the balance after a 14-day clearing period.
Online marketplace where consultants can post and conduct their remote video consultation services with their clients
Clients are required to pay Gigant upfront prior to the video consultation. Once the video consultation has been completed, funds will automatically be transferred to the consultant.

There are several job market websites and services that provide a portal where clients or employers can connect with independent contractors and employees looking for jobs. Some notable websites like these include Fiverr, Upwork, and Gigant

The advantage of using these websites is that most of them have a built-in way to protect both users from unlawful or suspicious activities so that both parties can avoid unpaid payments and continue their work with little fear of getting scammed.

B) Websites that Have Terms and Conditions that Deter Scammers

Aside from built-in hard-coded protection measures, some marketplaces will act as an intermediary between the employee/freelancer and the employer/client if there are disputes in payment. One such example is Onlinejobs.ph.

Onlinejobs.ph assures its users that in scenarios where they have unpaid payments due and the employer refuses to pay, Onlinejob.ph will remove those employers from their website. 

They will also send what the employer paid for their subscription to you (the employee) as compensation. So, make sure to only apply to paid Onlinejobs.ph employers. You should also make use of Onlinejobs.ph tools to verify the legitimacy of an employer and their job listing

Other marketplaces may handle disputes differently. Check out the terms and conditions and FAQs of each marketplace you intend to use. They should have a description of what kind of protection, penalties, and guarantees they can give to both the client/employer and the freelancer/employee when such cases arise.

C) Websites With an Employer Verifier or Reputation System

Some websites, such as Onlinejobs.ph, have an Employer Search or an employer profile page that you can use to check if the employer has an account in good standing. 

After searching for the employer, you can check out if their account status and whether or not there have been any complaints against them in the past. Employers with no complaints against them are safer bets and will help you avoid the pain of having unpaid payments.

Some job websites might not have their own employer verification feature, but a number of them will have a section where you can either view the profile of the employer or find details about them such as the following section seen on Upwork.

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Tip #2: Secure a Written Agreement or Online Freelance Contract

A) Review Your Employee Contract

More conscientious employers will provide you with a fair contract that stipulates the scope of work, payment terms, and other important agreements between you and your employer/client. 

As part of your due diligence, read the whole contract from start to end, especially the portions discussing the scope of work, duration of the contract, handling sensitive data, non-competition clause, and the payment terms/salary (depending on which one is applicable to you). If you have any doubts or questions about any part of the contract, read it again. 

Your best solution for ensuring that you will not get scammed is to consult a lawyer. It would be best not to make the mistake of signing up for something that could potentially end up being a bigger headache in the future.

B) Create Your Own Contract

In the event that your employer does not provide you with a contract, it would be wise to protect yourself from unpaid payments by drafting your own contract. 

Here are some examples of contracts made by lawyers which you can customize to fit your needs.

1) Contract Samples for Online Employees:

Standard Employment Contractfor permanent work/employment

This is a standard contract from the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration). Because this government body is responsible for the employment of OFWs, this contract is compliant with Philippine law and a good number of foreign country laws. This is a good starting point and an easy template to use. There are already blank spaces provided for the most relevant portions that you need to adjust and take note of.

Employment Contractfor probationary workers

This contract indicates that even if you are not a permanent employee, you will still have job security for the duration of the probationary contract period. The default probationary period indicated in this contract is six (6) months long starting on your first day of work with the company.

2) Contract Sample for Freelancers and Professionals

Contract For A Piece of Commissioned Work – Sample

This contract is applicable for commissions or one-time work between a client and an independent contractor/freelancer. It’s a good template for professionals, creatives, and consultants. Since this is a free sample, here are the parts of the contract that you would want to take not and edit to fit your specific needs:

How to Protect Yourself from Non-Payment 2

Replace items within the red boxes with your own personal information and the details of your client.

How to Protect Yourself from Non-Payment 3

Change all details in accordance to your work, due dates, and contract amount.

How to Protect Yourself from Non-Payment 4

“Sketches or preliminary visuals” should be changed based on the nature of your work. Items highlighted in yellow may be adjusted based on your specific objectives and what you want to get from your client. 

How to Protect Yourself from Non-Payment 5
How to Protect Yourself from Non-Payment 6
How to Protect Yourself from Non-Payment 7

Items in the red boxes should be filled in with your correct details and requirements. Items that are highlighted in yellow can be adjusted based on your specific industry and your own discretion.

Bring your own ID when you are going to present your contract to a notary public to have your document notarized.

To be truly sure that your contract is airtight, the best solution would always be to consult a licensed lawyer to review or create a contract for you, especially for larger contracts or business deals that are more sensitive in nature.

C) Limitations of Using a Contract

Despite having your own contract, be mindful that enforcing the contract can be another matter altogether, especially if your employer or client is located in a different country where laws may be different from Philippine laws. 

Regardless, having a contract will provide concrete proof of your deal with the client your client, which can still deter would-be scammers or exploiters from making a bad deal with you.

Tip #3: Choosing Clients Wisely

Now, regardless of whether you take on a client via a digital job marketplace, through a recruiter, social media, or via a referral, it would be best to do your own personal discernment of the client.

It’s also part of your due diligence to check if the client is legit so you can avoid unpaid payments.

A) Get Clients Through Personal Connections & Referrals

Although it is no foolproof method, personal referrals can provide you with good leads to clients. This is one of the most basic ways of networking and that can give you a good chance of getting a client who you can properly do business with, with little fear of being victimized by fraud (AKA estafa).

B) Do Research on Each Client

Aside from looking for personal referrals from friends, peers, and family, you can also do your own research on your client. Most big and legitimate employers will have some kind of digital footprint where you can research more about the company, its values, and general reputation. 

You can go through official channels such as their website and official social media pages, or you can research them through various social media pages such as Reddit, Facebook, and Glassdoor.

For more information on how to do research on your potential employer, refer to this article Avoid Scams: How to Find Legit Jobs on Onlinejobs.ph

Tip #4: Ask for a Deposit or an Advance in Payment (PTC – Post Dated Check)

Lastly, one of the best guarantees you can have to avoid unpaid payments is to ask for a deposit or a post-dated cheque (PTC). This is a very unlikely scenario but one that you can explore in case you manage to find a client who will be willing to deposit a downpayment. 

This guarantees that you will get paid no matter what happens.

Final Tip: Minimize Your Risk

If all of the above is not applicable or possible, you can also go the route of minimizing your risk instead of guaranteeing payment. You can do this by asking for regular payments with shorter intervals such as a weekly or a per-task payment schedule. 

This minimizes your risk so that you have less to lose in case your employer or client is not capable or willing to pay you.

If you are not sure exactly how to bill your clients for the work you’ve done, please see the article “How to Invoice Clients as a Freelancer in 6 Steps (With Free Invoice Template).”

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Jack Mina

Jack Mina, the co-founder of Remote Filipino Worker and Gigant.com.ph, has been in the digital freelancing industry for over 8 years. His aim is to help independent professionals and freelancers develop long-term and successful careers using the internet as their primary tool.

He spends his free time cooking, gaming, and taking care of his pet cat Gremmie.