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I'm kinda new to the job market and I'm basically only working to get some extra money as I'm currently in the last year of university.

At this moment I'm freelancing for a company and I signed a contract that states that it's both at-will employment and that my position is project/contract based. I'm currently in the middle of a pretty big project (architectural visualization) and unfortunately, I feel like it had some major work added to it. The number of buildings to make has changed, and so did the number of environment details I need to make etc. The worst thing about it is that my employer hasn't been responding since the beginning of this week (they had an excuse but still it feels quite unprofessional). I need information and clarification from them but I feel straight up ignored as they are not providing me with it. Architectural plans I got from them are outdated (stuff doesn't match because the architect decided to do some changes) and I'm basically working blindfolded because I don't know exactly what they want. It's a waste of time because it so happened that I spend a few hours working on a certain area, adding greenery etc. only to hear that I have to change it because they want different plants even though I asked thme for a list of what species they want and they never have made one for me.

The last thing is my payment. It was my big mistake because I started working for them when I was in need and thus, I've set the price for my services at pretty reasonable (that's a euphemism) level. With that, I completed the first project for them, got paid and was happy with my money. Great, but the amount of money I'll charge for the project I'm currently working on was calculated before the first one (it's kinda messed up but the project I've completed was more important one so we paused the one I'm working on now). Of course, we've negotiated and made some adjustments but with me not being sure what's expected. And they're telling me that now, we can't really increase my payment even further (as I feel would be appropriate considering the scope of work I did not expect) because the client has already accepted the budget.

So now the only question is whether or not I can quit right now? Because I'm just sick and tired of this lack of cooperation, and the money I'd get for this project doesn't motivate me either. And what do I do? The contract says that I need to give them no less than 30 days notice. Do I still have to work for them for 30 days? Should I send them what I've made already so that they could give it to the person that will continue this project? Can I demand any compensation for what I've done already?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Edit. I'm from Poland and the company I'm working for is based in Canada.

  • I believe the specific law depends on where you live/work, but your best bet would probably be to closely examine the contract you signed. Look for specifications on quitting. If you have to give them 30 days notice that means that yes, you need to work for at least 30 days after you notify them that you are quitting. – Cubemaster Nov 15 '18 at 15:38
  • That's kinda complicated because I'm from Poland and the company I'm working for based in Canada. – Scope Nov 15 '18 at 15:40
  • I am not an expert on law in either country, but I imagine, if it follows common sense, the law where you are employed applies. Thus, you need to follow Canadian freelance laws, whatever those happen to be. – Cubemaster Nov 15 '18 at 15:41
  • 5
    Take your contract to a lawyer. – Dan Pichelman Nov 15 '18 at 15:42
  • I second what @DanPichelman says. A lawyer would be much better at resolving this than people on the internet – Cubemaster Nov 15 '18 at 15:43
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So now the only question is whether or not I can quit right now?

If you are a freelancer, you can quit any time you like.

Of course you can expect your professional reputation to take a serious hit. You get to decide whether you care about that or not.

I signed a contract that states that it's both at-will employment and that my position is project/contract based.

The contract says that I need to give them no less than 30 days notice. Do I still have to work for them for 30 days?

The details of the contract and/or local laws will dictate what recourse either side has in the event that a contract is violated. If you are willing to suffer those consequences, you can leave at any time. You might wish to discuss it with your lawyer first, if you aren't sure what the recourse is.

Should I send them what I've made already so that they could give it to the person that will continue this project?

Yes, you should. What you've made already does you no good and sending it to them might lesson the chance or your getting sued. Certainly if you expect to ask for compensation, you must send it to them.

Can I demand any compensation for what I've done already?

That depends on the details of the contract and/or local laws. Many contracts are written such that payment is made only after successful completion of the project. Ask your lawyer before you attempt to "demand" anything.

No matter how you proceed from here, use this as a learning experience. Contracts are important documents. How they are crafted can set significant project expectations. If you wish to continue freelancing, it's important to understand how to set projects up right in the beginning to minimize the chance of this same situation happening again. And it's important to understand how to deal with a client when this sort of thing does happen.

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First, as far as you're concerned, whether the company's client has accepted the budget is not your concern. You aren't working for them. It's at best a nice excuse for the company you work for to deny you additional pay for additional work.

Second, stop doing inadequately specced work. You've done it at least once, and had your work go to waste. If you don't get adequate instructions, just let them know and don't work on it until you know what to do. The pace of working once you have enough information to proceed is something you can control, while the pace of getting information to you is something the company controls. Keep telling yourself it's not your problem. Don't take responsibility for this.

Third, does your contract specify the scope of the project? If it doesn't, or if it's inadequately limited, you've learned something for future contracts. If it does, feel free to ask for more money for every new complication, and offer to work on what the (amended) contract says for the agreed rate. The company will probably find that mostly useless, but they can't unilaterally change a contract.

So, my advice is to relax. Don't worry about when you get specs. That's not something you can control, and it's not worth you getting upset about. If the company wants timely work, they can provide timely specs. You're treating their dysfunction as if it were your problem, and it not. Changing your attitude may be difficult, but it's something you'll have to learn how to do if you continue freelancing.

Give notice, and do whatever work comes in during your notice period. If you can separate yourself from the company, you should find that a lot more workable. You've got a time limit, and it's usually easier to put up with things for a specific duration rather than indefinitely.

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First off, I'm glad to see people like you already taking the steps to gain valuable experience in the industry. In the long run, this would more than likely be a good experience to learn from.

To answer your question, we can't answer if you should give them 30 days notice or not. We're not aware of the details of your contract. We're not sure of the legal ramifications of leaving without giving the proper notice. There should not be a problem with leaving before a 30 day grace period. At worst, leaving before 30 days gives them grounds to terminate your position at will and nothing else further. However, it would be wise to consult with an attorney with the details of your contract.

Now if I were in your shoes, as far as sending your work for other people, I probably would not because of how you say the environment is. Then again, I'm not in your shoes.

I can't answer your remaining questions because I do not have experience in those areas.

  • So is there anything legally-wise that could happen to me if I violate that 30 day period and quit, let's say, within a week? The contract doesn't state anything apart from the fact that I need to give them such notice... – Scope Nov 15 '18 at 15:51
  • @Scope We can't answer that. You could ask about penalties for skipping the notice period on law.stackexchange.com, but nobody on SE will give you specific advice (for lots of good reasons). – David Thornley Nov 15 '18 at 16:00
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There are some good answers here to your question.

My answer is more about should you quit and how should you react now and whenever this situation comes up again (believe me, it will).

What you expereinced is sadly very common.
Changes happen all the time, work is added, speccs and material is altered, out of date or inadequate.

As has been said, if you jump ship during a running project you'll lose reputation big time, especially if you're a key person.
Less so if circumstances like accident,illness or other personal problems are the cause but still.

It is frowned upon and considered unprofessional behaviour.
Depending on your contract you might be liable for damages as well.

What you should do is alert the company that hired you for the project (your client) immediately about the consequences for the project, your time estimate and budget adjustments the changes carry with them.

Propose solutions and requirments to realize them.

The project deadline usually can't be changed, so you need to keep that under consideration and if you estimate that under the new circumstances you won't be able to fully accomplish what you agreed to initially make them aware of this.

Even if you have agreed to a fixed price you should try to re-negotiate payment if the workload has increased by more than 50% of what you were supposed to deliver and you think you realistically can deliver everything.
They might decline paying you more but they should be inclined to hire additional help if they realise you won't be able (or willing - this might sour your relationship)to do all the additional work on time.

If the person you had contact with so far doesn't react after repeated attempts, call the company and find someone else that has authority to talk to you about these things and the project in question.

The longer you stay in uncertainty or don't inform your client, the more you'll drift into becoming at least partially culpable should the deadline not be met.

If I may play devils advocate for a moment, this even might be why you're not getting proper feedback or instructions if they intend to drive that thing against the wall and put the blame on you.

Though most likely they either have no clue either how to fix the problem and hope that you'll just work harder or they actually don't know the full extent of the problem yet.

Oh and make sure you'll document everything in writing including phone calls. Simply send an email afterwards outlining what was agreed upon during the call.

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