Contract for Virtual Assistant

According to the dictionary, a contract is a voluntary legal agreement between two parties. These parties include the client and virtual assistant. It is enforceable by law. Amongst freelance virtual assistants, it is typically known as Work for Hire Agreement or Virtual Assistant Contract. It contains the rights and duties of each parties as well as limitations. Take note, a contract only arises when both parties signed and agreed to follow the written agreement.

Why do we need it?

Do you want to sign a contract? Why do we need it? When do we need it? Can we really trust the person we’ve only met on Skype or exchanged text conversations with after a quick chat or interview? Trust is easy to give, but security and assurance starts within a binding written agreement. These are the main reasons why we need it done.

Are you nervous about proposing a contract to your client? Among the many importance and values of having one are as follows: A contract provides a well-written detailed agreement of each party’s responsibilities. It binds both parties to their duties as stated on the agreement as well as agreed schedule or time frame. It ensures secured payment for virtual assistant services rendered. During recourse in moments when relationships between client and VA falter, we can use the said agreement to demand payment or compensation.

Now we know why we need it, but when do we need a contract? Learn from my mistake - Based on my years of experience in this kind of business, there was a scenario where the client failed to commit on our “verbal agreement.” I’ve delivered good virtual assistant services, but unexpectedly I ended up not being paid. It was a general transcription task from an Indian client. For a month’s work, I transcribed a lot of short to long MP3 files into words or texts in Word document format. After delivering all the documents, the client disappeared and never replied to any of my follow-up email messages. During those times, I’ve struggled to contact the client via email messages asking for payment. Because of this unexpected awful experience in the past, I’ve learned to demand a written signed agreement to any new clients before I start to work remotely.

As virtual workers, only a contract can secure our rights and it cannot be deprived by no one. It is very risky not to demand an agreement nowadays. Are you in a situation where you are 100% sure that both parties will commit to follow whatever you have agreed upon during the interview then you do not need a contract? Take the risks, but be prepared for whatever results this may lead to. If in doubt, follow your guts and demand a contract to your client before starting to work remotely.

How to create a Contract?

“Is it possible for me to create a contract even though I’m not a lawyer or liaison officer?” A frequently asked question amongst people who are just getting started in their virtual assistant career. Of course, it is possible. Do not worry! It is very easy and simple to do. I will lead you on how to do it, just follow these three simple steps. On these steps, you will learn essential parts of a contract, types, some examples as well a few tips. Please refer to the Standard Agreement as guide for these steps.

    Step 1

    To create one, the very first step is to know essential parts of a contract. Be informed that there are various types of contracts, which I will discuss below. Common among these types of contract’s content are noteworthy title, a brief introduction, detailed body which includes terms and clauses, and most importantly signature of the client and virtual assistant. Take note, besides these key contents, a well-written agreement does have basic elements. These include the purpose and scope of the contract, responsibilities of parties, and most importantly detailed definitions of scope of work, period of agreement, compensations, terms of payment and contract administrator.

      Title

      Standard Services Agreement, Agreement to Provide Virtual Assistant Services, Contract for Services Rendered, General Service Agreement are among the many titles you can create as a title for your contract. I highly recommend to always mention in your title the words “virtual assistant”. Why? It is used to distinguish the name of the agreement. It is also appropriate for the type of services you are providing to a client.

      Introduction

      Any agreement starts with an introduction. Mentioned within the introduction are a few words and phrases, but most importantly are the names and addresses of both parties, the client and virtual assistant. Commonly, the texts of the names and addresses are bold, italic and underlined. Why? It is done this way to easily emphasize and pinpoint who are the key people involved in the agreement.

      Body

      After a brief introduction is a detailed terms and clauses of the agreement. Commonly, the terms are key and general phrases.

        Key Terms

        This include the type of service(s) provided by the virtual assistant, delivery of services, location of services, agreed amount of services, and modes of payment.

        Services – This involves a few phrases that mentions about the kind of service(s) you will provide to your client. A good example of what you can type on the [insert a description of the Service(s) here] is this: Virtual Administration – VA will provide general online administrative task(s) to the client which include but not limited to scheduling meetings and appointments, responding to email messages, cold call, typing, transcription, etc.

        Site - It is where you are providing your virtual assistant services to the client. On the [insert details here] you need to mention the “exact” physical address and a few detailed descriptions from where you are going to provide your services.

        Price – The exact amount of money as payment for the services you and the client agreed upon. This can be in any currency as per your agreement. Generally, it is in US dollars or British pounds. It is also mentioned that the price can either be hourly or fixed. Most virtual assistant services price range are either on a fixed price for short-term task(s) or hourly rate for long-term task(s) basis.

        Payment – This includes the terms as well as time and mode/method of payment. For fixed price, payment usually done right after completion of the task(s). For hourly price, payment time are scheduled since it is a long-term task(s). Weekly, biweekly or monthly are the usual time for hourly price payment. The mode or method of payment commonly are done through ETF (electronic fund transfer) where the payment will be delivered by the client through bank deposit or online payment system like PayPal or Payoneer. Clients send their payment either cash deposit or credit card also through check (cheque).

        General Terms

        Besides the key phrases mentioned above, intellectual property rights, warranty, limitations of liability, terms and termination, relationship of the parties, confidentiality, notices and miscellaneous must be included in the agreement. Why? It emphasizes the exact rules of the agreement in general. Without these rules, there are no set of obligations both parties must follow.

        The intellectual property rights basically granting the client “total” ownership or governance of any materials (data, images, videos, etcetera) created by the virtual assistant during the said contract. Warranty is that the VA is required to deliver quality services to the client. Limitations of liability denotes the extend of which the parties are liable. Term and Termination is where both parties quote their rights to end or extend the contract in accordance to the stated situations. Relationships usually mentions that the VA is an “independent contractor and not employee.” Confidentiality is that once this agreement commenced, the whole parts of the agreement (verbal, written, data, all task(s), et cetera) are treated subjectively as private or confidential. Notices are ways this agreement can be delivered. Usually snail mail, by hand, or electronic mail. Miscellaneous are other add-on general terms that both parties want to include.

      Clauses

      It is where we put the changes to any part of the agreement or add additional words or sentences. This includes amendments and additional clauses.

      Signature

      The most important part of the agreement is the signature of both parties. In the signature, mentioned are the name, title and address of the client and virtual assistant. It also includes the exact date when the agreement was signed. Take note, without the signature, the agreement is deemed as void. It cannot be accepted by law. Suggest to client either to print the document, sign, scan and email it back to you. Otherwise, you can suggest to your client to use signature apps like DocuSign, eSign, Adobe Sign, HelloSign, Sign Easy or other similar apps to sign the document and emailed right away to you.

    Step 2

    Know Various Types of Contract

    There are various types of virtual assistant contract or agreement. These are Virtual Assistant and Client, Virtual Assistant and VA Company, Subcontractor Agreement (Virtual Assistant and Virtual Assistant Agreement or Virtual Assistant and Freelancer Contract).

    The Virtual Assistant and Client Agreement is basically a contract between the VA and client. A general type contract is used. It mentions the essential parts of a basic contract. When an independent virtual assistant subcontract with a VA company or vice versa then a Virtual Assistant and VA Company Contract is required. A few changes with the Key Terms are created in accordance on what the VA Company and VA agreed upon. In cases when the work load of a virtual assistant is too many and it required him/her the need of another VA or freelancer then a Subcontractor Agreement is needed. A few changes as per their agreement are made on the Key Terms.

    Step 3

    Use free virtual assistant form examples as a guide or reference in creating your own contract. You can download these forms here. This includes "free" ready-to-use contract forms which are Virtual Assistant and Client Agreement, Virtual Assistant and VA Company Contract and lastly a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor Agreement.

    Optional Plan

    If you are not confident in writing or creating your own contract, then you might need to consider hiring an expert to help you. These experts may include an experienced virtual assistant, freelancer or lawyers for business contracts.

Tips

Do contract needs to be witnessed or notarized?

After signing the agreement ever wonder, “Does my contract need to be witnessed or notarized?” The answer is “No”. Generally, a virtual assistant services contract does not require to be notarized or witnessed to be enforceable by law or deemed legal. If a dispute arises then a notarization and witnesses of a contract comes in handy.

When, why and how to cancel a contract

Common reasons why a contract is being cancelled are tenure of the agreement lapsed, disagreement or misunderstanding between client and virtual assistant, undelivered or poor quality of work, or unfulfilled payment(s). These are examples of “breach” of contract. In cases like these then a contract must be cancelled. How? My advice, act professional by sending an email notice to the client explaining the reason(s) why you are disclosing the contract with the date you are terminating to do your duties on the contract.

What to do with a Breach of Contract

As mentioned above, in case a “breach” occurred during the contract then you need to seek legal advice. Contact a lawyer nearby and present all the evidences especially the agreement regarding the issues. Further advise will be done by your lawyer.

On unresolved cases, some virtual assistants “get even” as a desperate option by posting bad reviews regarding their experience(s) with that client on review sites, social media, et cetera. This serves as “red flag” to all freelancers and virtual assistants regarding that client. Honestly, I did try this option a long time ago when I went through that awful experience with the Indian client who contracted me to do transcription tasks.

FYI: The “free” examples of contract forms mentioned above are provided for your information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice. These agreements might not be appropriate for your requirements. Paul (author of this article) makes no warranty about the suitability of these agreements and accepts no liability arising out of the use of these agreements. Please consult your legal or business advisor for further information or advice.


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