Sometimes I do temporary work through staffing agencies. It's happened on a few occasions that they present me with "paper work to fill out" after the work has ended and before I receive pay.

Recently I replied to an ad where a marketing company needed a truck unloaded. I did the work. It was very simple. Now they are telling me I need to register with their online system to submit my invoice, and parting of registering includes signing a contract. This contract includes non-solicitation, confidentiality and indemnification clauses and some very broad terms. It's also very poorly written as it switches between calling me a "contractor" and "consultant". There may even be a term that conflicts about allowing the company to film me for commercial profit, because I am part of a film union (though this is likely a non issue for some technical reasons).

I've had some very unfortunate situations where I've been tricked into signing things that weren't fair. Now I'm paranoid when it comes to accepting contracts. I am not interested in working for this company again and would rather not take a risk by signing the contract. How can I politely let them know that? (I'm guessing some people are going to say never work without a contract, but in a sense the ad stating "move boxes for x hours for $y pay" was the contract. Also for such simple work it doesn't seem necessary).

PS I had posted on interpersonal.stackexchange.com but they told me to post it here.

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    @JoeStrazzere "ask how you will get paid before you do the work". I did. This doesn't really cover them trying to pressure me into signing something though. "Sorry. I'm not willing to sign that contract" - thanks I'll try.
    – user_hi
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 11:16
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    Answering the ad is completing a contract and as you say the ad said "x hours for y pay" then the contract has to be honored - this then becomes a question for Law.SE...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 11:16
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    @SolarMike this is why I put it on interpersonal skills...I'd much rather try to resolve it myself before resorting to paying a lawyer and spending time in court.
    – user_hi
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 11:18
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    @user_hi I did not suggest interpersonal skills.... But I would send them an invoice by registered mail, so they have to sign receipt... Then hopefully they will accept to pay...
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 11:21
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    Maybe I'm missing something here. Is there a reason why you can't ask to see the contract before you do the work? In my experience, the contract usually comes first, precisely to make sure all parties know what they're agreeing to.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


It is generally a bad idea to work first and then figure out the contract details later. Usually you should insist on not lifting a finger before you signed a contract. Otherwise you end up in a very bad negotiation position: They can withhold payment unless you agree to their terms, but you can not undo the work you did. If you want money out of a client who is stubborn like that, you have to go the legal route and hope the court estimates the wage you deserve in the same way you do.

But hindsight is 20/20. So what do you do now?

Two people can play that game. Write your own contract with your own terms and give it to them as a counter-proposal. They might sign it to get this over with or not. This sounds like a lot of work, but remember that you can reuse that contract when you offer your services to other clients in the future. If you show up for a job and they don't have a standard contract for you, just pull out your standard contract and demand that someone signs it before you start working.

You very likely have no legal obligation to send an invoice in exactly the format the client requests. So you don't have to go through their invoice-system. Regardless of whether they sign your contract or not, just write them an invoice and send it to them as a letter. If they don't pay, send them a dunning (you might add a dunning fee and dunning interest if you want to be extra annoying and your local laws allow it), then another, and then get a lawyer.


I´d say you already have a contract!

By them assigning you work and you fulfilling it, you have a verbal contract. Any special conditions not known to you beforehand should not apply to that contract.

What I would do: Just send them your invoice, complete with due date and everything. Reject their offer of the formal contract. If they don´t pay up, go the normal legal road for non-paying clients.

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