Self-Employed Versus Freelance Transport Contracts: Know The Difference

In the employment world as a whole, the status of any given professional can sometimes create a degree of confusion. While there is very little doubt that someone hired full-time by a single company is an ’employee’ of said company, beyond that the lines do tend to blur, with terms such as ‘freelance’, ‘worker’ and ‘self-employed professional’ being erroneously tossed into the same basket.

In a field such as transport contracts, which operates in significantly more relaxed fashion than some of the other areas of professional society, knowing how to make the distinction between these seemingly similar terms becomes even more important. These types of professionals differ not only in their title, but also in important aspects such as tax duties, so it is important that hauliers are aware of just where they fall in the ‘contract-basis’ ladder. Below is a brief overview of the distinctions between these terms, to help haulage professionals achieve this goal.


In the context of transport contracts, much like in other areas of professional service providing, a freelancer is defined as a person who, while seeking out his own opportunities and servicing a number of companies, nevertheless signs limited-term service contracts with each of them. What this means is that this type of worker will be paid by task or service provided, rather than receive a fixed weekly or monthly fee (as an employee of a company would) or making his own salary (as a self-employed professional, detailed below, would).

Much like self-employed tradesmen, freelancers make their own schedules and are free to cherry-pick their work. When applied to haulage, this means professionals who work on a freelance basis are free to choose which transport contracts they want to take on, and which to pass up. At the end of the day, however, these workers are still under contract to one or more companies, and receiving their pay stubs from them. This is not the case with self-employed professionals, as we will demonstrate below.


Unlike their freelance counterparts, self-employed professionals are not on any company’s payroll – they pay themselves. Basically, they are business owners, even if in most cases the business consists of only themselves and, in the case of the haulage industry, a single van or lorry.

One of the main advantages of being self-employed is that, by definition, the client will have much less involvement in how a worker goes about his or her job. While a freelancer will be bound to policies and guidelines for each of their clients, self-employed workers answer to no one, as they depend on no one but themselves. As such, the only specificity they are bound to is the deadline, and the manner in which the final product is to be presented.

Applied to transport contracts, this basically means that a self-employed haulier’s only responsibility is to ensure the load is hauled and delivered within the time frame established by the client. All other considerations are left to the individual themselves.

Aside from these particularities, freelance hauliers are also subjected to a different taxation system when compared to self-employed. That, however, is a theme that would take up a whole other article, and will be delved in to at another point in time.

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