I'm currently doing free lance work for what is basically my former employer. We have no official contract signed or anything. When I left my former job we separated on good terms and I agreed verbally to help them out with freelance work if they needed it.

Now the problem is that this current project has dragged on for months when in the beginning they said it will only take a few weeks. The delays are not because of me. All of the work I was suppose to do is done already but now they want me to continue doing other stuff that is not my responsibility. My question is how do I tell them that I no longer have the time to work with them because of my current job (I'm a co-creator of a start up company). Is it ethical on my part leaving the project in its final stages if my part in it is done?

  • 6
    We have no official contract signed or anything - Never work without a contract. The situation you are in now (no idea how to terminate a contract which does not exist) is one of the lesser problematic situation it can bring you into. There are far worse situations it can cause, like making you liable for damages (no contract which says you would not be) or not getting paid (no contract which says you deserve payment).
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 11:28
  • 1
    Just give them adequate notice (a couple weeks or whatever is appropriate to your work) and do it on good terms. Maybe give them some hints about how to find a replacement if this is high-skill work. There is no reason to burn bridges if you've managed this relationship so long.
    – user34320
    Commented Jul 4, 2016 at 6:43
  • I would need more details than that. Was there any verbal agreement or any emails if yes what? You wrote "months". How many? What about money? Did they pay you at all? Was it cash in hand or was it legal?
    – Zsolt
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


Is it ethical on my part leaving the project in its final stages if my part in it is done?

Yes, if you have no contract it's perfectly OK. If it interferes with your business then even more so.

You should just tell them you don't have the time anymore since you need to concentrate on your own business. If you feel bad about it, make an attempt to find them a replacement. But realistically, business is business, you have to have a bit of ruthlessness in you, and you need to put your business first. Otherwise your startup will probably fizzle out pretty quickly.

  • 1
    Thanks for the advice. I just send them all the project files. I suggested a talented friend of mine who is capable of helping them and is local to their area. As a final thing to keep my mind at ease I told them I do not expect payment. This is a mistake I know.
    – Uri Popov
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 9:53
  • 3
    If you can afford to do it and it makes you feel better, it's not a mistake, it's customer relations.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 10:02

By exhibiting your ethical standards (which are a huge asset), I wouldn't' concern myself about not accepting payment. Your value has been added to and you've put yourself in a position to get that lost payment x10..

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