I have worked as a freelance for 1 complete month in company XXX (end client in their building).

In my contract, it's written that I will get paid 30 days after my bill transmission.

I just received a call from my headhunter (intermediary) 1 hour ago informing that regarding some issues with some kind of weird context, I will be paid for this first complete month 60 days after.

Basically, what he told me:

Sorry Mik, but I learnt 20 minutes ago that company YYY don't want to sign a kind of paper REQUIRED for you to be paid in time.
I'm explaining: The guy preceding you, that you are replacing, was coming from company YYY.
YYY is used to be the master provider of tech profiles for company XXX.
They don't want to "retire" so quickly, like a kid that wants to take revenge. We make our possible to treat with them so that you will be paid in 60 days accurately.
If you are in trouble, we can split the payment so that you'll get 1/8 of the total in 30 days accurately.
Do you see any problem with that? Sorry again.

I want to keep good contacts but also I don't want to be "owned".
I would add that I have savings that would be secured me for two months, but I don't want to count on that.

How would you treat this case?
Should I "yell" or should I accept it as one of freelancing risk?

  • 1
    Do you have a contract with the intermediary, or directly with the end client? I.e. to whom do you address your invoices? Jan 30, 2017 at 15:11
  • Invoices are addressed to my intermediary. I have a contract with him directly, not with the end client.
    – Mik378
    Jan 30, 2017 at 15:15
  • 6
    Then explain to him that you have a contract with a 30 day payment term, and that it isn't your problem that the end client pays later. This is the reason that I also work with intermediaries form time to time, to make sure I get my money after 30 days as indeed many larger companies pay after 60 days. For me this is a large aspect in the added value of an intermediary. Jan 30, 2017 at 16:36

3 Answers 3


Since you have DONE work and have not been paid before, you cannot do much but wait. Check the contract between you and your intermediary and push on him. If he has screwed up, let him pay you and then he waits for the payment from this company.

I dislike such behavior and this would be a great read signal not to work with this company or this intermediary. Or work under different rules.

Now, whatever you do, do nothing in rush. I would do this:

  1. inspect the contract in details

  2. if the contract says that I am to be paid in 30 days, I would try to politely say to my intermediary that I want my money or at least 50% now. My life cannot stop because he screwed up.

  3. Once I get hold of my money, I would not start a new job without changing the rules. I would request upfront like 20%, then 50% at some point, and the rest after the contract ends.

No matter how attractive the intermediary looks or how much work he can get me, what's the point of working for him if you have to wait for your money each time.

  • My contract strictly states that I am to be paid in 30 days max. I like your 2. point.
    – Mik378
    Jan 30, 2017 at 17:34
  • 1
    I wouldn't go straight into submission by suggesting a 50% loan for 30 days (because that's what you're doing, you are loaning them money that should be in your pocket). Refer to your contract and insist on a 30 day payment term without throwing it in his face. Don't forget: he's already sold you to the end client and you're already working there, so you have a strong negotiating position. Jan 30, 2017 at 23:47

I find it amazing that it has taken your headhunter a month to discover that the end-client would not be signing a document.

However, it seems that the headhunter simply does not have the liquidity to pay you in full. This might be true if the company is small.

As a freelancer, the only two possible sanctions you can impose are:

1) Upon contract expiry, refusing to extend - if the client wants an extension

2) Upon missing payment, refuse to do more work (unless your contract explicitly forbids this)

As a minimum, I would inform the headhunter that the situation is very unprofessional. Whether I would attempt to exert maximum pressure by doing 2), would depend on my financial situation and the ease/difficulty of getting another contract. Being financially secure, I would probably just extract as much payment now as possible, not merely accepting their 1/8, but going for 1/4 - and upon contract expiry do 1) - stating the payment terms as the sole reason.

  • "I find it amazing that it has taken your headhunter a month to discover that the end-client would not be signing a document." => you're totally right, it's very weird.
    – Mik378
    Jan 31, 2017 at 9:23

Who is your contract with?

If your contract is with the headhunter, then they have cash flow problems.

The headhunter has a contract with the client. If they get paid within 60 days, they need resolve this.

By the way, what you call headhunter I call recruiter, agency or pimp - I think we talking about the same people. A third party that fits between you and the client. This relationship exists for a number of reasons, one being to ensure there is no employee/employer relationship between client and you.

I have had more than a couple of dozen contracts since 1994, a small number were one man band recruiters and things typically worked out. I say typically because my first ever contract was with a recruiter who was taking a 60% profit margin (meaning he was profiting more from my work than I was). They were afraid I would find out, and he held back paying me (the more he owed me, the less likely I would leave was this crazy thinking). When one invoice was 9 weeks past payment I turned up at the client one morning, told them I was fit for work but witholding services due to non-payment. We parted company but I eventually got paid.

Point being is your recruiter could be a small business like you - you have to decide if they are going to hold out on paying you at all. You don't state what country you are in - in the UK, each company (thus, your recruiter) must file accounts at companieshouse.gov.uk and you can check 1) how old the company is 2) if the directors have ever been in trouble and 3) if they are behind with any taxes. It's a simple credit check that won't cost you anything - I would do something like this on your recruiter.

I like comments from @Peter-MV about the recruiter making some effort to pay you since you also have expenses that need you need cover - however I have never worked/demanded any % payment up front. Typically I invoice end of month, wait 30days, then get paid. In 20+ years, with exception to my first contract, all the other recruiters/agencies paid me this way. If your contract says payment due in 30days, then you are within your rights - and while you might not want to rock the boat with the client, the headhunter/recruiter/agency/pimp won't want to rock the boat either. Don't get shirty, be polite and you can apply firm pressure to reduce your risks.

  • Thanks for this complete answer. "You don't state what country you are": for the info, I'm in France ;)
    – Mik378
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:02
  • France is a beautiful country - it is more than Paris, and more than fine wine =) I cannot remove risk, but I can reduce it. When I am concerned doing business with someone else, I check how long they are trading. Within the UK, there is high chance of having an audit from the taxman within first three years of trading - so for me, its simple test: If they are going 4+ years, I can 'reasonably' say they pay taxes and are not a "fly by night" (here today, gone tomorrow) business. Basic checks on a company are free in the UK, maybe also in France.
    – fiprojects
    Feb 4, 2017 at 17:41

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