Job site terms advice - is this legal/ethical?
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  1. #1
    The7Artist7's Avatar
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    Question Job site terms advice - is this legal/ethical?

    Helooo everyone - been a while since I posted on CA and enjoying all the new shiny goodness of the new version

    However one of the reasons I've not been around for a good while is quite simply trying to earn a living!

    I'll get to the point! One of the sites I've been looking for jobs on has just updated it's site terms to include a clause / section that states:

    "Payments between Buyer and Seller must be processed through [site], both for work sourced on [site] and for any follow on work between the Buyer and Seller, either for the same Job or another Job. Payment (or attempt of) outside of [site] is a violation of our Terms & Conditions and will lead to permanent suspension of your account, and you will be liable for any loss of business and legal expenses that [site] may incur in recovering it"

    Now I already know this is very unpalatable for a freelancer especially when the site charges a fee of 18% on the 1st 175 earned each month then 4.2% on the remainder ... except that they take 18% for the whole month then calculate a 'cashback' to even things out... yes again I know this is ummm how shall I say... crap! not to mention epically confusing... agh and they used to charge a simple 10%inc VAT and that was it! easy!

    Anyway I'm getting off topic!!!

    What I want to ask is: does anyone know if - demanding that site users, if they find a freelancer or client via the site, must conduct all future work between said freelancer and client through the site and it's payment process? Forever...?? is legally/ethically ok? Just because they they advertised a job and completed a job advertised (and paid a sizeable fee to get paid).

    They used to have a clause that stated all work between client/freelancer for the next 12 months had to be via the site but removed it during a major site upgrade.

    It just feels unethical or as if it is breaking some kind of work law - am I being fussy and living in a dreamland or is this crazy?

    I've just had a great month and have a couple of great new clients via the site and they drop this on us.

    So yes if there is anybody who knows legal stuff (CA's own legal guys would be great on this one!) please let me know your advice - do I have a leg to stand on in opposing this change to terms? If you want to see the full T&Cs let me know

    Cheers! meanwhile - cartoonist available for freelance!

    Keep rockin everyone - CA is as awesome as ever

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    dpaint's Avatar
    dpaint is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
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    Basically you are hiring them to act as your agent so I would guess there is a reasonable time frame that they can collect a fee from you for using their clients. After all you met them through their site so they are theirs. It is the same with recruiters or galleries who expect a percentage. If you don't like the terms then don't use them.

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    I don't know how it works in the UK, but in the US I think that there are timeframes that would apply here. For instance in the US there is an across the board 7yr statue of limitations except in the case of specific federal charges. Since they do not specify a duration their clause would fall into a legal grey area, which would then be open to interpetation. So if this were under US law they would have to prove that the language used in their Terms and Agreements was clear and reasonable. So if you waited a year or so and then worked for a client that you met through their service, they would have trouble enforcing that clause.

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  6. #4
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    Thanks for the answers both *thumbs up*

    Please forgive my naivety when it comes to 'agent/agency' type dealings/terms - I've been a freelancer for quite a few years now (12+) but have only ever dealt directly with the clients so have a gap in my experience with this.

    Yep I have no problem giving them a (fair - not quite as high as their current fees) percentage of what I earn from jobs advertised through the site and would completely understand if they stipulated you must work with a client through the site for say the next 6months if they fall into the 'agent' category (so long as fees were reasonable) - but do they??

    They don't get involved in the client-freelancer finding each other process at all - apart from providing somewhere for people to post jobs (for free), a private message board to contact the person who has posted the job and a payment system... they stipulate you have to use these last two. So they are pretty much just a job board that restrict you to using their contact and payment system.

    They even state:

    6.1 Our Status:

    We are solely a marketplace for buyers and sellers to interact. We do not search for, select or introduce buyers and sellers to each other. As a result, we are not regulated under Employment Law and in the UK the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 or other employment agency laws do not apply to us.

    If you're interested the site is called PeoplePerHour...
    full T&Cs here: http://www.peopleperhour.com/static/terms
    and their 'Trust and Safety' page: http://www.peopleperhour.com/static/trust-and-safety

    And yep I'm aware of the crazy 'licences you grant us' section - it's 'under review' after much complaint from users - hoping they sort that out asap.

    But my main concern and question right now is - can anyone tell me if the site is acting in a way that justifies the clause to limit users to only working via the site for all future work... from what has been commented so far a set period seems the solution?

    Thanks in advance for any further advice - and please do not take my links to the site as any form of advertisement! I certainly do not recommend them at the moment if you have other options! ... hmm on which note I'd love to know about any other job sites that are decent (other than CA.org's own job section of course! )



    Last edited by The7Artist7; November 2nd, 2012 at 04:40 PM.
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  7. #5
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    Anyone else?

    I totally appreciate to get my answer I really need someone who knows law to give me the answers I'm after...

    ...wait a sec!...

    I think I may know another site that could help...

    If I get anywhere with other sites I'll post back here in case the info is useful to anyone else

    Hmm meanwhile is there a more appropriate section of CA for this to be posted in?

    Cheers!

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