Writing a cancellation policy

Hello, first time poster here. I have part-time regular work right now and I’m thinking about making the switch to full-time freelance work.

I have a client who would like to me to work as a contractor on-site for a month. This would be out of state, and I’d have to give notice and quit my current part-time job. I have a good relationship with this client and I think it would be a good jump start for my freelance career.

My concern is with a last-minute cancellation, which my client said is a possibility. What if I give notice to quit my job and then they cancel? Can I structure my contract in such a way that they are responsible for say, 50% of what my total pay would have been?

Thanks for your advice.

Well, you can structure the contract in any way you like. But there’s no guarantee that the client will accept it.

It’s certainly reasonable to impose a cancellation fee. The only question is whether 50% is the right figure. I can’t help you with that. The “right figure” is one that is high enough to cover your losses, but not so high that the client will refuse to accept it.

You’ve also got to make it clear what the 50% is based on. To charge “50% of what my total pay would have been” seems a little vague. You’ll need to be more precise in the wording of the contact.

Also, keep in mind the possibility of the client cancelling before the contract is signed, that is, the client deciding not to go ahead with the contract after all. In that case, you won’t be able to enforce the cancellation fee. So better not give up your day job until everything is completely signed.

Finally, I’d advise you to discuss the issue with the client before presenting him with the contract. Put your cards on the table, explain the situation, and make sure you have a meeting of minds on the issue.


Are you sure you want to give up your regular job for a one off, 4 week gig, that may even be cancelled at the last minute? What makes you think this will kick start your freelance career? Has the client indicated there’s more work in the pipeline? Just make sure you are taking calculated risks and not getting dazzled by promises.

It could work out really well for you, but I would be less concerned about cancellation fees and more concerned about what happens once you’ve given up your existing job - even if this one off job goes through, what next? I’d be more inclined to keep the part time job so I have some income coming in while I try building the freelance business; it could be a while before that starts generating any money. That appears to be the ‘sensible’ route, but then again, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so go with your gut if you feel it’s worth taking the risk. If so, as Mike says, have a talk about it all with the client.