A Virtual Assistant Contract

Is it Important?

I am sure you have heard the saying: No job is finished unless the paperwork is done.

Well, in a Virtual Assistant business, no job should start unless the paperwork is done.

Thus, to the question….

Is a Virtual Assistant Contract Important?

The answer is….


It is important to know what paperwork you need and what contract to use before working with your first client.

virtual assistant contract

One sometimes hears about VAs performing work on a verbal agreement basis. Although some countries accept and enforce a verbal agreement, it is very difficult to “prove” that such agreements actually exist and the terms that were agreed upon, especially when there is a dispute between the parties.

Thus, it is best to have a proper, signed contract between a Virtual Assistant and a client

The reason?

  • To ensure both parties have clear expectations of the work to be done and the compensation that will be provided
  • To protect you in cases of dispute or breach of contract

Virtual Assistant Contract

The type of work / services that will be performed usually determines the type of contract that needs to be signed.

There are primarily three different types of contracts that a VA can prepare.

1. Independent Contractor Agreement

An independent contractor agreement is used for

  • Clients that only require the VA to help with a specific project. This project can be work that is only needed once-off or it can be recurring projects
  • Clients that require work that can be billed per hour

An independent contractor agreement sets out all the terms to which the VA and client agrees and include the dates for commencing with the work, a percentage deposit (recommended), a full description of the duties to be performed and the method of compensation.

With an independent contractor agreement the VA is usually paid in full after the work is done: e.g.

  • after the project was finalised and delivered to the client,
  • at the end of the month for hourly billing.

2. Retainer Agreement

A retainer agreement is used when a client wants to establish a longer term relationship with a VA and requires that the VA performs either

  • a predetermined number of hours of work per month or
  • a set number of tasks per month

With a retainer agreement, the VA usually has a discounted rate structure based on the number of hours that the client requires – e.g. The more hours per month is required, the higher the discount to the client.

This discounted rate can serve as an incentive to negotiate with the client to pay upfront for the nr of hours as specified in the agreement. This means that the client pays the VA at the beginning of the month for the work that will be done in that month.

Using a retainer agreement is therefore beneficial for both parties:

  • The client receives work at a discounted rate and
  • The VA has some sort of security, knowing that she receives a steady income stream from the retainer client usually before work commences.

3. Non-disclosure Agreement

A third Virtual Assistant contract that also needs some mentioning is the Non-disclosure Agreement or Confidentiality Agreement.

Although both the Independent Contractor Agreement as well as the Retainer Agreement have some general clauses for non-disclosure of information, some clients might prefer to have a more elaborate and formal confidentiality agreement in addition to the other working agreement.

A formal non-disclosure agreement is normally signed when the Virtual Assistant will be dealing with confidential information about the client’s business and where the client wishes to protect such information.

Signing of this agreement is for the mutual benefit of both the VA and the client and its purpose is to protect both parties.

Virtual Assistant contract 1

A proper Virtual Assistant contract is an important aspect of any VA business. It is vital to have high-quality contracts, to understand the terms of your contracts and to use them correctly to protect both you and your clients.


Pitfall: Take care – contracts that are acceptable in one country do not necessarily protect you if you are situated in another country.

Thus, make use of contracts that are country specific, are professionally prepared, which uses the correct legal terminology that is acceptable and applicable to your specific area or country.

Be Virtual Assistant Wise provides professionally prepared templates of the above mentioned Virtual Assistant contracts that are applicable and acceptable within South Africa.

For more information read

Business Structures for a VA Business
Should VAs pay Tax
Return from Virtual Assistant Contract to Homepage

*Please note that the information provided on this page is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and is provided for informational and educational purposes only.