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I'm a freelance web developer with a few clients -- one of them (currently my biggest one), has a project with a client of their own, and I'm working on this project and communicating regularly with their client.

MY client has asked me to tell THEIR client, if they ask, that I'm full-time. This is definitely not true, if only because I usually put in around 20 hrs/wk on this client/project, and so this rubs me the wrong way as it feels deceptive (even if the situation never comes up).

Am I looking at a red flag here? I've already decided that I won't tell their client I'm f/t, and instead refer any questions about my work-status to my client. But I want to make sure I don't end up in any compromising situations, legally or otherwise. Are there any extra steps I should be taking here to protect myself in some kind of worst-case scenario? Or is this not an uncommon thing and my concerns are overblown?

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    Is not it a business opportunity for you to tell their client that you are un-employed? I think you should proceed with disagreeing – Khalil Khalaf Nov 2 '16 at 18:44
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    Did they specifically say 'Full time' or just that you 'Work for them'? I represent some of my clients when liaising since I am their technical person although I'm really a consultant. I'm specifically authorised to do so though. – Kilisi Nov 2 '16 at 18:51
  • @FirstStep what's the business opportunity here? – user1031 Nov 2 '16 at 18:55
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    @Kilisi They specifically said full time. I represent my clients every now and then as well in the same manner, but I think it's more the idea of presenting myself as "full time". – user1031 Nov 2 '16 at 18:58
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    Remember that you cannot depend on anything that client tells you that you cannot check. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 2 '16 at 19:03
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Am I looking at a red flag here?

Yes. Any time someone asks you to lie, it's a red flag.

My first thought is your client may be charging their client double the hours being worked. It's normal business to mark up your hourly rate and pass it through, it's entirely different to increase the hours.

Are there any extra steps I should be taking here to protect myself in some kind of worst-case scenario?

Ensure you're correctly reporting your hours to your client and have a copy that you own/control (invoices, paystubs, etc). Stick with your gut and do not lie to their client about your hours worked.

Or is this not an uncommon thing and my concerns are overblown?

I would be concerned. Personally, I would be willing to quit over a company consciously breaking the law. Depending on how much you need the freelancing work with that client, and/or your relationship with your contact there, you could raise your concern with your client.

I would be hesitant to raise the concern with their client. Unless/until you have concrete knowledge of wrongdoing, you could burn a bridge with your client by wrongfully accusing them.

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Am I looking at a red flag here?

Well, yes, but there could be reasons for it. But being asked to lie is never good.

I've already decided that I won't tell their client I'm f/t, and instead refer any questions about my work-status to my client

Yes, this is good. You have a business arrangement with your client, who they happen to be a client of, but really they shouldn't have any expectation of quizzing you on how your contract works, even if they are being billed by your client by the hour. I would just politely ask them to discuss it with the account handler at your client, and don't explain it further.

I would also go back to your client and say you won't lie, but you have no intention of discussing your status with their client either.

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