A working agreement between you and your virtual assistant or virtual assistant company is worthwhile to have on file.
The contract will define the terms of your relationship, including the services to be provided, the expected working hours, and the agreed-upon rate.
It will also spell out your policies for sick days, holidays, and vacation days. Are those days paid, up to a certain number each year? If your VA is overseas, will they observe your holidays or their own? When your VA is not available, who will be in charge of taking their place (if anyone)?
If you’re using a virtual assistant company, they will generally provide a contract for your to sign. Of course, be sure to review the fine print to make sure it is acceptable to you.
The big freelance sites also have a general template agreement that all parties must consent to before beginning the working relationship. However, you might wish to modify those terms with your own customized contract, and are free to do so. Consider the provided template contract your baseline agreement, and anything you add on top of it will override it between you and your freelancer.
If you’re hiring a freelance virtual assistant outside of Elance, oDesk, or some other third-party site (for example through Virtual Staff Finder or OnlineJobs.ph), your VA contract should detail out your payment terms. How much will you pay? How often will you pay it? What method will you use? (PayPal, wire transfer, direct deposit, check, etc.)
If you have opportunities for your virtual assistant to work overtime, earn sales commission, or some other performance-based bonuses, you can include that in the contract as well.
The contract should also include how long the engagement will last (perhaps indefinitely), and how the agreement can be terminated by either party. For instance, you might ask for the standard 2-week notice from your VA if they are going to quit. A VA company might ask for 30-day notice from you before terminating your subscription payment.
One important element of the virtual assistant contract is to specify the nature of the working arrangement — that the VA or service provider will be legally considered an independent contractor of your company, and not an employee. That gets you off the hook for a number of traditional employer burdens like payroll taxes and employee benefits.
(Of course you’re still welcome to provide certain benefits, especially for long-term hires that really become an integral part of your team.)
Finally, more virtual assistant contracts will include some form of non-disclosure non-solicitation agreement. Basically the idea here is to protect your business assets (login information, client lists, growth strategies, trade secrets, business processes) from falling into the wrong hands.
The non-disclosure agreement NDA portion of the contract forbids the VA or service provider from sharing your sensitive information with other parties. You can also add in a non-compete clause, which would bar them from starting a competing business within a certain period of time (often 2 years).
I’m not a legal expert so I can’t say exactly how enforceable the NDA / non-compete / non-solicitation clauses will be for overseas virtual assistants, but including them in your contract makes you look like you’re taking the business seriously and certainly can’t hurt you.
Please take a look at the attached sample virtual assistant contract and feel free to use it and modify as needed.