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Employer is Asking Me to Sign an External Contract

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Active Member
Colten H Member Since: Jan 14, 2020
1 of 15

Hello everyone,

 

As the location states, I'm new to Upwork and have stumbled upon my first job opportunity. While initially excited, an interview rubbed me the wrong way and so I've decided to ask whether or not the job is legitimate on Upwork.

 

The interview itself was purely text. Nothing particularly strange about the questions themselves, but at the end I was asked to sign an external contract to be hired on the spot. It was my understanding that the only contract we would have to agree to would be sent via Upwork messaging. They also asked for my address earlier, but I declined to give it to them. I told them that I would not sign their contract (itself vague and only two pages long) until I have received the offer over Upwork.

 

Any insight from the professionals would be appreciated. Thank you all in advance.

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 15

Upwork provides a standard, default contract that is in force if no other contract is used.

 

But Upwork allows clients and freelancers to use other contracts of their choosing.

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Active Member
Colten H Member Since: Jan 14, 2020
3 of 15
Thank you. Should I wait until they send me an Upwork contract before signing theirs or should I go ahead and sign theirs now?
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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 15

The "Upwork contract" is what happens when they click the "Hire" button. You agree to it when you click the "Accept" button.

 

They are going to want you to sign the contract/agreement before that happens.

 

What I do is:

Read their contract.

Make sure there's nothing weird.

Sign it and don't worry about it.

 

...Because these contracts are almost always just boiler plate. Nothing weird or interesting. Basically says that their intellectual property belongs to them and I won't talk about it to other people. Which is fine, because I would do that anyway. So the contract doesn't ask me to do anything I that I don't do for all of my clients. If there's something weird don't sign it. But in most cases, you don't need to worry about these. Most of the times the clients asking you to sign these things have never even read them.

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Ace Contributor
Susan W Member Since: Dec 30, 2019
5 of 15

Hello,

I'm fairly new too, but ran into a scam my first few days on Upwork, so I have some questions for you.

 

Did they send this contract to you via your email address? Contracts should only be sent through Upwork messaging. There is no reason for them to be sending it to your email address, which is what these roofing people attempted to do to me. Mine was a two-page contract as well, very poorly written.

 

Did the interview occur over Skype messaging? My interview was very run-of-the-mill over Skype, but then got strange after they proclaimed me "hired." Then they wanted my address, bank name and email address. They wanted to send me a check and a laptop. I was to purchase software for this laptap in order to do their proofreading. None of it made sense so I reported it. 

 

I have learned that I am my own best guide—use your gut instinct. The scams are real on Upwork, and pretty soon you'll be able to spot them. 

 

Good luck!

 

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
6 of 15

Susan:

I'm glad you figured out that was a scam.

I don't know if that is what original poster Colten is facing.

 

There are legitimate external contracts that are two-pages in length.

 

But Colten should certainly read your notes carefully and if this is similar to what he is seeing, he needs to come back and talk to us before going forward with anything.

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Ace Contributor
Susan W Member Since: Dec 30, 2019
7 of 15

I completely agree, Preston. 

 

I do have an external contract pending now. It's only three pages, so I do understand what you mean about legitiment external contracts. Mine was sent through Upwork though, so I wasn't too worried. The scam though, he refused to send via Upwork. 

 

Initially, I was really upset being caught in a scam, but I'm actually thankful for it now because I learned to trust my gut, and identify these jokers by their ads. 

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Community Guru
Mary W Member Since: Nov 10, 2014
8 of 15

You have to be hired on Upwork.  You can sign an external contract and/or non-disclosure agreement as well.  Just be sure that the external contract doesn't prohibit you from working for other clients... And don't give personal information.  Upwork has your information and that should be enough.  (That being said, all my clients know my phone number and email but not at the beginning and not until I trust them)

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Active Member
Colten H Member Since: Jan 14, 2020
9 of 15

Hey Susan,

 

That's actually why I'm having a hard time figuring this out. They didn't forward the interview over Upwork, it was a text only interview over Skype, the only info they asked for was email address and personal address, and the contract itself "promises" full employee benefits despite me being an independent contractor, on top of the entire document looking like it is in dire need of an editor and proofreader itself (bad grammar, punctuation, formatting...). But he has not asked for a social security number, nor asked me to buy anything.

 

Overall, I just have a bad feeling about it, but, judging by the contract's contents, even if I signed it, it's not like I'd actually be beholden to anything. I just don't even really want to do that at the moment since, well, then they'd have my signature.

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Moderator
Avery O Moderator Member Since: Nov 23, 2015
BEST ANSWER
10 of 15

Hi Colten, and Susan, 

Susan, I'm so sorry to learn about your experience in Upwork. I'll go ahead and check if actions have already been taken against the client's account and their job post. 

 

Colten, as some of the Community members have shared, some clients may request freelancers to sign an external contract or an NDA. This should be fine as long as it doesn't violate any of Upwork's User Agreement. As for the request for your address, clients normally don't need this information and you can share with them your general location if that's a need. But, sharing your personal address is not something you should provide.

 

Susan, and Colten, I highly recommend that you read up the "Safety First!" section of the freelancer resources we have compiled, and these tips for avoiding questionable jobs for more information about working safely through Upwork.


-Avery
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