LEGAL SAFEGUARD PROCEDURES FOR FREELANCERS IN INDIA

Introduction

Life Begins at the end of your Comfort Zone

We all love to do what we are fond of and are comfortable about whether it’s eating food, choosing a lifestyle, clothing habits, stream, career, etc. Every one of us wants security in our personal as well as professional life. That’s why we always tend to choose a comfortable and safe working environment. Fix working hours, fix workload and fix salary. But in this fixed life phenomenon there are some people who are constantly breaking their boundaries and expanding their comfort area by challenging their limits and coming out of their comfort zone. It is one of the bold steps towards self-growth and development. And the field of freelancer provides us with a platform to do so. It forces you to go beyond fixed working hours, fixed salaries and fixed scope of learning. It provides an edge over the set life pattern. Under this field, you may earn 10,000 rupees in a month or maybe 100,000 rupees in a month and that’s the element that made it more prone to risks.

“Self-employed and hired to work for different companies on particular assignments” is what freelancers do. They are not a part of the long term employers list; they have flexible working hours, salaries and an environment. It is one of the most fashionable and trending jobs in the market which is also influencing the young minds of our country. Since the last few years, India’s freelancing market is boosting many small scale businesses and startups. It’s a field that keeps growing with a developing economy. And provide employment and extra sources of income to the people.

Legal safeguards of freelancers

Freelancers are not full-time workers but they work on a contractual basis or terms. They are self-employed people who are providing their services to different clients, sectors and companies which make them more prone to abuse and fraud. So, they need legal support to protect their “right to work” and “right to choose profession”. Here are some legal aids which are and can assist freelancers in India from being misused. The first is “The Contract and Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970”. Under this law, these self-employed people can form written contracts with their clients and decide on some prior working conditions to avoid confusion and fraud.

An agreement should follow the below-mentioned details in their contracts:

  • Basic details – The name of the contracting parties, organisation name and address, contracting details (if required) and the nature of the work;
  • Payment – how much you will get paid, when would you get your payment, in which form, on what basis (like, get paid according to the working hours or according to the amount of work);
  • Deadlines – when you have to submit your work (date and time), in which format;
  • Termination – The agreement should have mentioned termination conditions, date of the contract and cancellation liabilities;
  • Confidentiality – a self-declaration of not disclosing the shared details to the third party, whoever is found guilty will be held liable.

The freelancers can license their work to their clients but the “copyright” of their work is in their hands they may use that same work on other platforms for their own projects, research or any other reference without any permission and liability. Even transferring the copyright is in their own hands, they may sell them. They can also recreate that work according to their needs and necessity for any other client but if they already signed any document mentioning that the copyrights will be held under the client only then the freelancers don’t have any right on their own craft after the submission. They can trademark the signs and symbols which they use to present their exclusivity.

By applying for the “trademark” you can create your own brand and uniqueness in the market which also prevents your craft from plagiarism. And as freelancers people should avoid plagiarism and using unauthorised work and craft. As we know that they are their own boss they don’t work under any office so they need to manage every aspect of their work on their own. They need to learn every pros and con of being self-employed whether signing contracts, getting a trademark or managing their own finances. They don’t get any fixed salary every month but they do have their fixed expenses every month. They also have to pay income tax and for that, they frequently require income assessment and if they forget it they have to pay penalties as well. Because the government agency “Tax Deducted at Source (TDS)” keeps a check on these things from your ‘PAN’ and ‘Aadhar linked’ bank accounts. They can also demand refunding of the taxes under “Tax Collected at Source (TCS)” but for all this, they need knowledge and awareness about different government schemes.

At present time we don’t have any particular set of legal codes for the freelancers in India which target their labour rights and prevent them from exploitation. The “Indian labour and employment” laws and “The Minimum Wages Act”, 1948, only counts three types of working professionals; government employees, public sector undertaking (PSU) (employees) and private sector employees. These laws only consider these types of jobs and people employed. We may hope freelancers will be part of these laws definitions in the upcoming time soon.

Conclusion

Currently, 15 million people are involved in this business of freelancing and Indian freelancers are getting popular among top agencies. Companies are also assessing the evolution required in their working environment. Especially after COVID where people are forced to work from home and things are shifting towards digitalisation. Even the government of India is also starting to recognize them and give them jobs. During the “Digital India Mission,” the government of India hired many freelancers to make the Indian government documents digital. We can also start websites that work as “third parties” to create a platform that works as a bridge between the freelancers and clients and can work towards providing legal aid to freelancers.

Author(s) Name: Agrima Singh (Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida)

 

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