What To Do When A Client Treats You Like An Employee

The popular way to earn a living right now is through freelancing, where you are your employer and can pursue your interests.

Skilled freelancers have a huge clientele. Without pausing for anything, they work on one job after another.

They are also a quick switcher between tasks and an effective problem solver.

But then there isn’t any source of livelihood that doesn’t have its challenges, in this article, we are going to talk about what to do when a client treats you like an employee.

An employee and a freelancer are different, the only similar thing is that they work to get paid.

But they can’t be treated alike, that’s why it’s wrong when your client treats you like an employee when you are a freelancer, if you are an employee you will have no problems with this.

A few indicators have been listed below so that you may recognize when a client is treating you like an employee because some people don’t even realize it.

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Signs To Know That Your Client Is Treating You Like An Employee

The signs include:

1. They Demand That You Sign A Non-compete Contract

A non-compete agreement, also known as a non-compete provision or covenant not to compete, is a legal document that forbids you from working for a client or employer’s competitor in a related field.

This kind of contract is typically utilized in partnerships between employers and employees to stop workers from joining other companies as soon as their current employment ends. It guarantees the safety of the business’s trade secrets.

This kind of contract is frequently requested by a client who wants to prevent you from working for another business in their sector. Although it is unacceptable.

A non-compete agreement stops you from specializing and provides the client disproportionate control over your firm. 

In the US, the IRS may classify you as an employee, in which case a portion of your taxes would be owed by your client. It is also a major indicator of “employee” status.

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2. You’re Receiving Employee-sized Compensation

You do yourself a great disservice if you enter a freelance job comparing your hourly pay to what you made as an employee.

You must first keep in mind that you do not receive all the benefits that workers enjoy. As a freelancer, am I allowed paid time off? None at all. 

As a freelancer, you are responsible for paying for your health insurance, disability benefits, retirement, employment taxes, and equipment rather than having them deducted from your pay.

Your clients must understand that the two wages are not comparable now that you have done so. 

Even if they are paying you twice the average employee hourly rate, they are still probably saving money because they are not providing you with employee benefits.

Additionally, think for a second that you are a business owner. You wouldn’t tell your dentist that since they are working for you, I’ll pay them $20 an hour. Nah

You become aware that you are paying the dentist’s practice for the goods and services received.

It’s all too simple for clients to begin thinking of you as an employee and to begin exerting more influence over your business as if they were your owners after you agree to employee-comparable salaries.

3. They Want A Brand Change

Even if it doesn’t happen frequently, clients who gamble sometimes make these kinds of requests.

Here is an illustration. Your customer decides to publish a page with all of its staff members. 

The headshots should all have the same white background, dark shirt, squared shoulders, and grayscale hue. Additionally, you must add the image to your account.

That is not ok because you are unable to brand your company in the manner in which you would like to market yourself as a result. 

The equivalent of that would be to ask your client if they can modify their logo to match the sizes of the other client logos in your portfolio.

4. They Specify Where, When, And How You Should Work

Depending on how much influence a client or employee has, the IRS distinguishes between relationships between employees and independent contractors. 

The IRS states that behavioral aspects taken into account include:

  • Instructional style used
  • Instructional level 
  • Evaluation techniques 
  • Training

The IRS notes that if your client instructs you as to when, where, or how to work, you are now operating in employee territory under the category of “kind of instructions issued.” 

For instance, a client may insist that you assist them Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, hire a particular subcontractor named Al to assist you with the work, and only work from your home computer when it has secure Wi-Fi.

5. Their Assessment Process Evaluates How Well You Do The Job

Evaluation systems are another characteristic that the IRS utilizes to distinguish between independent contractors and freelancers. 

The IRS claims that it is possible to gauge employee performance by looking at how the work is carried out. 

On the other hand, the success of the project is used to evaluate contractors.

It’s unfair to regard you as a business owner if a client treats you like an employee by keeping a close eye on how you do the work.

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What To Do When A Client Treats You Like An Employee

You have a few options if your client is already in a position of power over you but your connection with them was not specified in your contract.

You can perhaps discuss your relationship with your client. Although it will be frightening, the talk must be had. To educate your clientele, approach the dialogue. 

If you’re the first freelancer they’ve hired, there’s a good chance they’re treating you like an employee because they don’t know the difference.

Next, watch out for acting like an employee and avoid giving in. It is simpler to treat you that way the more you act like it. You must therefore realistically work around deadlines.

Setting forth expectations in your contract is the first step in creating wholesome client and freelancer partnerships. 

Include a clause describing the independent contractor relationship that says: Control, Specificity, Task, Taxation, Advantages.


To carry out the tasks indicated in the contract, you, the freelancer, choose when, where, and how to work.


Throughout the term of the contract, you are free to provide the client with equivalent services from other clients.


You are allowed to appoint other people to work on the project with you as subcontractors.


You are responsible for paying all local, state, and federal income taxes, your client will not deduct them from your payment.


Since you are an independent contractor, you are not entitled to any employee benefits, like sick leave and health insurance, that your client may provide.


With this, you can tell when you are been treated like an employee and what to do when a client treats you like an employee.

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