I am a freelancer and currently working with a client found through an agency. The contract was drafted by the agency.

It says:

  1. The Freelancer supports according to the needs of %agency% and %client%, approximately 40 hours per week and up to n.a. hours in total.
  2. The Freelancer shall notify %agency% and %client% about any time frames where the Freelancer is not available in a timely manner (e.g. 5 - 10 working days beforehand).
  3. In accordance with the Terms and Conditions, both Parties shall be entitled to terminate the individual Project Agreement observing a notice period of 10 days.

The client says he wants to end the contract, and my notice period has started. But he refuses to give me any billable work anymore.

Earlier, I was working 40 hours/week, and now it's 0 hours/week, which means I have zero income effectively immediately.

Can he do this?

Note: I have no interest in involving a lawyer or harming my relationship with the client/agency. My question is about the contract based on the information I posted here

  • 5
    What does the agency say? I'm assuming they make money when you make money... so they don't right now.
    – nvoigt
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:22
  • 3
    Are there any minimum billable hours in your contract?
    – nvoigt
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:23
  • @nvoigt It says "approximately 40 hours per week". That's the only thing mentioned. I am waiting to hear from the agency.
    – CodePanda
    Feb 7, 2023 at 13:08
  • @JoeStrazzere Agency
    – CodePanda
    Feb 7, 2023 at 14:20
  • 1
    Even EU doesn't help completely, because individual EU countries can have different laws. Not too different usually, but slightly different. For example I can move with my wife freely to every EU country for a new job with one single exception.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 7, 2023 at 17:35

3 Answers 3


This depends on your contract. If your contract has no stipulations for a case like this, yes, the Client can do this. That's why some contracts have clauses like: At least 10hours per week will be billed, regardless of the amount of work actually done.

But a lot of contracts don't have a clause like this, and if your work isn't actually used, you earn 0. Factor in the risk when quoting your hourly rate.

Also: As a freelancer, you were never employed. Don't think you are! Always factor in risks as freelancer.

And agencies want to make money, and often the situation is that the client is more valuable then the freelancer. So contracts crafted by them will be widespread and maybe standard, but not nessecarily in your best interest.

  • 1
    I don't claim to have an employer-employee relationship in my post. The contract is pretty vague and says "approximately 40 hours per week" but not "minimum x hours". I think it's not worth pursuing the client over it and I should just accept the reality.
    – CodePanda
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:20
  • 1
    @CodePanda you used the word "unemployed". You could ask a Lawyer if the approx 40h/week gives you anything enforceable, but if they worded it to their benefit, it won't be.
    – Benjamin
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:28
  • 3
    Thank you. I think I won't involve the lawyer for ten days of income (which also includes a weekend) and will choose to have a good relationship with the agency instead. I used the word "unemployed" as in "jobless", or "unassigned". My English is not very good, so that probably caused confusion.
    – CodePanda
    Feb 7, 2023 at 13:05
  • 1
    (I've changed the question to "zero income" to remove this confusion) Feb 7, 2023 at 13:33
  • 1
    "Zero hours" is not "approximately 40 hours". Feb 7, 2023 at 19:05

Can he do this?

Most likely.

While the contract says that you "support" approximately 40 hours per week, it also says "according to the needs of the agency and client".

Clearly, the client no longer needs your services. And I see nothing in the excerpts from your contract you have posted that guarantees you a minimum number of hours.

Such is the life of a freelancer.

But, if you want to know the actual answer, you need to talk to the agency and then perhaps a lawyer.


Europe is a big place. If you are a contractor (you work and send bills for your work) then likely yes. But as a freelancer you were never employed.

My guideline is that for contracting, 120-150 daily rates should match the annual gross salary of an employee, which covers for situations like these.

  • Yes. I am a freelancer/contractor. I was working and sending bills. Sorry, My English is not very good. So according to you, can they stop assigning me billable work?
    – CodePanda
    Feb 7, 2023 at 11:35
  • 1
    I believe they can. Of course it is naughty because it makes the notice period pointless. On the other hand, if reducing the hours from 40 to 10 was legal, then why would 40 to 0 be illegal? In the end, your income is not secure. And you set your daily rate to compensate for this.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:27
  • @gnasher729 it is likely a onesided notice period against CodePanda. So the notice period isn't completly pointles, but extra naughty.
    – Benjamin
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:52
  • 1
    My hourly rates do compensate for this. But I wanted to understand my contract better.
    – CodePanda
    Feb 7, 2023 at 13:06

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