26 May

If you are spending a lot of time thinking about how to end a relationship with a client, you probably should.

Unless your contract states otherwise, you don’t owe it to a client to continue working with them if you are unhappy. If there is a contract in place between yourself and the client, UASA’s Independent Professional Sector has sourced the best legal minds in South Africa and we are best positioned to help you discuss your walking away options.

There are many reasons why a freelancer/contractor would want to end a relationship with a client, these are but not limited to:

  • They don’t pay enough – Maybe you started working with them when you were just starting and your rates have doubled since. Or maybe you accepted a lower rate than you really wanted to because you thought the work would pay off in some other way.
  • They consistently pay late – If a client’s inability to pay in a timely manner is costing you, how long can you afford to put up with it? This can affect your own monthly payments and you find yourself not paying them on time.
  • Scope creep – This is when a freelance project keeps growing, often in small increments so that you end up doing more work than you originally agreed to

There are many other reasons why a freelancer/contractor would want to end their relationship with a client, below are some pointers UASA has put together on how you can end your relationship with a client in an amicable way.

Be professional, don’t burn bridges

Sometimes a client makes you angry or annoyed and you just need to let it out. That’s fine, as long as you do your venting to friends or other freelancers. Even if you’re outright ending things and don’t intend to ever work with the client again, don’t burn bridges.

Keep your language polite and professional. You don’t necessarily need to explain your reasons here, keeping them vague is generally good enough. “Not a good fit” and “too busy” (or “overloaded”) are perfectly acceptable reasons to cite.  

Frame it as being more about your choice than something they did wrong, even if you think they did something really wrong.

Provide advance notice.

With many freelance contracts, a months’ notice is usually required. Finish all the tasks you are currently busy with for the client, or offer to stick around for a couple extra weeks to give them time to find someone else.

Provide a referral.

Do you know another freelancer that’s a better fit for the client? Offer to send an introduction. It’s an opportunity to help another freelancer get work while helping the client out at the same time, building good relationships with them both.

Only do this if you feel comfortable doing so. Don’t provide another freelancer’s information to a client that doesn’t pay or treats you terribly. Also remember to give the freelancer you recommend for the job a head’s up about whatever issues you had with the client, so they can make an informed decision

Remember, UASA Independent Professional Sector is ready to assist our members who might have issues with their clients. With over 125 years of trusted support to its members, UASA has contracted some of the best legal minds in the country to give you the same level of service excellence that our members have become accustomed to.

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