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Boss vs Client

Community Guru
Mario C Member Since: Aug 15, 2012
1 of 12

What do you think are the difference in a relationship if any between a boss and an employee vs a client and a freelancer?

Community Guru
Hanna N Member Since: Jun 17, 2015
2 of 12

Maybe it's because I come from a decade of customer service jobs, but to me, a client is more like a customer than a boss. I do my utmost to keep the customer happy, because I want him to be a return customer. But I also have the right to choose my customers and turn away the ones that are giving me the heebie jeebies. 


A boss you just suffer through. A client you serve and choose.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 12

Boss and client are very different.

When I get my hair cut, get my lawn mowed, or have a graphic artist design a webpage, I am buying a service from a contractor/small business. I'm a client, not a boss.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
4 of 12

When I translate or edit, I work per project for or with a client, depending on his or her requirements.


If I worked for a boss (male or female), I would expect regular monthly pay, all the usual benefits, and a week to two- weeks holiday per year - that's just for starters. When I left the B & M world (many years ago), that was what I was getting, execpt by that time, I was getting four weeks holiday + ten days sick leave a year. The boss and the company were untenable. I exchanged them for a dicey freelancing life - which has had its up and down moments. However, I can say goodbye to clients or keep them forever. Some clients have become very good friends - none of them are bosses.

Community Guru
MERCY N Member Since: May 6, 2015
5 of 12

Bluntly speaking, Mario, what comes to mind in an instant is the ability of the boss to push you around as the employee. And I think, for most part, the boss plays 'all knowing'.


But when I think of a client vs a freelancer, I see a give and take situation, of the kind that comes with free will. I can equate it to the relationship between a buyer and a supplier. In your example, the client is a service buyer while the freelancer is the service provider. Each needs the other and apart from the service that binds them, there aren't other ties like those in a boss/employee relationship. I'm thinking of the ability of the boss to hold you at ransom knowing pretty well you've got accumulated benefits to safeguard; insurance and other benefits and so on.


In fact, come to think of it - the relationship between a client and a freelancer is more or less like the one you have with your local shopkeeper. You can go elsewhere for bread if you so wish; and the shopkeeper will still sell to other customers even if you boycott his/her shop. Only the goods bind you together.


And mind you, I said, bluntly speaking... Smiley Happy








Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
6 of 12

Well, I don't get nagged if I sleep in and start work at 9:30 from clients.


The flipside though, I don't care about deadlines at a real job because everyone gets paid even if I take a week longer. I feel pressure to make deadlines in freelancing, because I dont' want to be that typical flake freelancer.

Community Guru
Jeri B Member Since: Feb 15, 2010
7 of 12

This is a good start; not entirely comprehensive (the formerly known IRS 20-point test--which most if not all states still use--presents all the issues on a continuum), but it comes from Upwork, and it least they have acknowledged the issue:


I think this is also a good summary, probably one of the best ones written.


Unfortunately, a majority of the jobs posted on Upwork exhibit varying levels of control that, if the contractor accepts the job, makes the employer vulnerable to misclassification. Some clients do this unknowingly; some clients no it, and are intentionally gaming the employment system.


The bottom line is this:

  • a contract alone does not establish the classification (you can have a contract but legally, the state department of labor and/or the IRS can conclude that you are an employee an not an IC).

In detail, an IC:


  • is not an integral part of the client's business and not subject to control
  • does not need training or instruction from the employer
  • determines the manner in which an assignment is completed
  • doesn't submit status reports
  • sets his/her own hours
  • sets his/her own location
  • determines whether meeting attendance is necessary
  • may outsource work, or substitute work assignments, to another
  • receives the same payment and/or reimbursement regardless of who does the work
  • provides their own equipment
  • pays their own expenses
  • is paid by objective and not hourly
  • pays their own benefits
  • allows for termination without liability of penalty
  • may perform the same work for others without prohibition

I actually have this written into all of my contracts and when it becomes a problem, I flip to an on-call part-time employee.



Active Member
Oliver M Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
8 of 12

Quote from previous post:


"In detail, an IC:


  • is paid by objective and not hourly
  • may perform the same work for others without prohibition"

I brought these two out because I believe they deserve additional clarification. Other than these, I think Jeri B was quite exhaustive in explaining the role of a contractor vs employee.


Not all contractors are paid by project. Attorneys are a prime example. Most attorneys work on retainer, and submit monthly invoices for the work performed. As a Virtual Assistant, I seek to develop an ongoing relationship with my clients, where I bill for a number of ours each week. The number of hours billed may not be the same.


Also, there are some clients who may ask a contractor to sign a non-compete clause. They are rare, but they do exist.


To me, the most essential differentiation is who is responsible for paying the taxes on your earnings. If you pay your own taxes, you're a contractor. As someone mentioned, there are people who will try to run your work ala a "boss," but then play the "Contractor" card when it comes time for benefits and taxes. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying goes. If they aren't being taxed on your earnings, they aren't your boss can cannot dictate the terms of your work.

Community Guru
Fergus M Member Since: May 23, 2015
9 of 12

The fact you use the words "if any" makes me suspect you don't really understand what a freelancer is.


I don't work for anyone. I am not an employee, I have no boss. I run a business. To be precise, I run a shop that sells words. I have a few shelves of pre-made wordy things that people can buy if they like, but usually people ask me to write special wordy things just for them. So they tell me what they're looking for and I tell them how much it will cost. Then I write it for them, they pay me and walk out of my shop with a little bundle of fresh, warm words.


Now, if they were my boss they could walk in and say "Fergus, write 1,000 words about the mating habits of the Mozambiquan snail catcher. Have it on my desk by five tonight." I'd have to do it, because I was their employee. Because I'm a freelancer I can say, "No. I'm not interested in snail catchers. I'm going to the pub now. Please leave my shop."


When someone hires a freelancer they are not employing them. They are paying a business to provide them with a  service. There is all the difference in the world.

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.― George Orwell
Community Guru
Mario C Member Since: Aug 15, 2012
10 of 12

@Fergus M I use "if any" to give the option to the reader.  I am not putting here any of my preconception  about the subject.  I jut want to know your opinion without  any bias  from my part.