Invoicing: How to invoice and what do when payment is late.
You’ve earned your money, now time to invoice for it so you can get paid.
What is an invoice?
Invoices are documents that request payment for goods/services provided. They outline what was provided (e.g. what you did, the hours you did it for and agreed rate of pay) and how much money you are owed from the company/person that has employed your freelance services. If you’ve done a job through your agent, then chances are that they will invoice on your behalf, take their cut and send you what is left. If the work is NOT through your agent, responsibility falls on you and if you don’t do it, you probably don’t get paid (so yes, full attention required!).
Getting into the habit of sending off your invoice as soon as you’ve completed the work is worthwhile because a)it's easy to forget (or is that just me?); and b) the sooner you invoice, the sooner you get paid! I use the SD Online App, so I just record the income, create the invoice and email to the employer right there on the train home from the job. Depending on your arrangement with the person/company your working for, you can accumulate your earnings into one invoice, or do separate ones after each job/shift etc but I’d definitely recommend recording your work as soon as you’ve done it whether you’re invoicing the same day or doing one big one.
What to include in my invoice?
A couple of things to note:
- Invoices are related to self-employed work only;
- It is YOUR responsibility to invoice for the work you have performed; and
- Unless you agree a different payment date, invoices must be paid within 30 days of issue. Here’s the HMRC page on it https://www.gov.uk/invoicing-and-taking…/payment-obligations (what to do if you’re NOT paid on time below!)
What does an invoice look like/need to include? Make sure it includes these bits:
- Your name/name of your self-employed business (stage name);
- Date of issue (date you send your invoice);
- Your address;
- Unique identification/invoice number (something like JB-051119-001 initials-date-number);
- Who you are addressing the invoice to (For the attention of: XXXX);
- Details of work performed (Date(s), hours/rate/fee, any expense money and total amount due;
- Payment terms "Payment is due within 30 days into the following bank account:"
- Bank details (the sort code and account number of the bank you’d like your money to go to); and
- Tax liability statement (because it’s self-employed work. Refer to income post if you want some more detail).
Luckily for you, we have a free template right here for you to view/download/use on our Resource Page. And if you’re really interested, here is HMRC’s page on what to include https://www.gov.uk/invoicin…/invoices-what-they-must-include.
So all being well, you strut your stuff, invoice for the work you’ve done and the amount owed lands in your bank account within 30 days - happy days!
What do I do if I've not been paid?
Credit to my amazing friend and colleague Jessica Singer (I know, what an amazing last name right?) for these tips. She's had a few ‘pain in the bum’ experiences herself and made a mini guide on how to chase up on money you’re owed. So naturally, I am shamefully copying, pasting and regurgitating it all for you wonderful people – THANK YOU JESS!
Firstly, make sure you have ticked off all of the above list - they are key to being paid on time. If you’re using the SD APP to generate invoices for you or using the template on this site, then we’ve already got you covered on this!
If you are concerned about an employer, there is an additional statement that you can add: "If payment is not received within 30 days, I will exercise my right to claim interest (at 8% over the Bank of England base rate) and compensation for debt recovery costs under the Late Payment legislation". It lets people know you're not messing around! But, you don't have to include this in your original invoice to charge it later so it’s up to you whether you do or don’t.
But 30 days has come and gone and there's a hole in your bank account where this invoice payment should be, what to do?
- Send a gentle reminder. Sometimes things get missed, delayed, forgotten about etc. It happens. Maybe a "Hi there, I don't have any record of this payment being made. It was due on XX/XX/XX, please can you send me the details of when you made payment or do so within the next seven days. Original invoice is reattached for your records." Ensure you attach the original invoice (with original issue date) so it’s really obvious.
- If you still don't receive payment (after the 7 days) then send a new invoice, due immediately. You can charge interest (https://www.gov.uk/late-c…/charging-interest-commercial-debt) and a compensation fee for debt recovery costs (amount depends on debt owed https://www.gov.uk/late-commercia…/claim-debt-recovery-costs). Use this link to calculate how much you can charge https://www.smallbusinesscommissioner.gov.uk/…/interest-ca…/. Note that you can only charge businesses interest and late fees, not direct consumers.
- Tell them you will put in an official complaint with the CEO/head of the company (find them here https://www.ceoemail.com/). Include a new invoice with updated interest from the last one. Let them know your next step will be with the small claims court. If you are part of a union (EQUITY perhaps), let them know that your union will be backing you (don't forget to tell your union you're having trouble).
- Small Claims Court. Hopefully it won't get this far but you can file an online case here: https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money.