Freelance to Full-time


New Member
Hello everyone,

Just need a little advice as i'm not sure on my rights here.

I was working freelance as a Graphic Designer for a little over a year when I managed to secure a decent client who then offered me a full-time role at their company leading their digital print department.

The work i was doing for the client originally was only ever for brochures. I was in the middle of finalising a brochure for the company just before I started my new role.

The problem is, I put in a lot of hours for this particular brochure but now the client/my new employer wants me to give them the finalised brouchure which i started when i was freelance - making brochures is not in my job description.

I still do bits and bobs on the side as part of my freelance business outside of work. So do i invoice my employer for the work/time which was done before i began employment and complete the brochure outside of work? Or do i complete the work in-house with no charge and pretend i'm absolutely fine with that? I feel in limbo with this one.

Thanks in advance!


Staff member
Bill for the hours you did when you were providing a service as an external contractor prior to your employment and then finish it as you would any other job as a salaried employee.

If you were a building contractor and you'd part built a house before being employed by the client then you wouldn't write off the work you'd done already.

Paul Murray

Staff member
For clarification, are they asking you to finish off the design in your current digital print role? I assume it wasn't finished and paid for before you started the new role?

The work you started as a freelancer will come under a 'work for hire' agreement, so providing the client has paid for it, or agreed to pay for it upon completion, they technically own it, or at the very least can lay claim to it. But it's not yet completed and is still property of you as a freelancer.

It it were me, I'd charge it as a freelance job. It was started as a freelance job, and they essentially now want to bring the work in house. To do that they need to either pay your business to finish it or release the files. You working there now doesn't really change anything, it's still a B2B transaction that isn't yet completed.


New Member
For what it's worth, in any contracts I have with clients I retain copyright unless it is requested otherwise. In which case we'd need to agree on a price for them to purchase the copyright too.

Clients pay me for my time and usage rights for the purpose stated in the contract. If they want to use any designs I produce for anything other than what has been agreed they need to purchase the rights to do so.

Under my contract, they would have no ownership of the brochure designs, so would have to either purchase the copyright for me to be able to complete it as an employee or pay me as a freelancer to complete the work and gain the usage rights upon its completion.

Your case depends on your contract, and unless you've stated otherwise, it'll likely fall to 'work for hire' as Paul Murray has stated. It's worth checking the law surrounding this yourself as these laws vary from country to country.

In the UK the creator owns the copyright of commissioned works not the client:

When you ask or commission another person or organisation to create a copyright work for you, the first legal owner of copyright is the person or organisation that created the work and not you the commissioner, unless you otherwise agree it in writing.

However, in some circumstances, for example when copyright is not dealt with in the contract to commission the work, courts may be willing to find that there is an implied licence allowing the commissioner to use the work for the purpose for which it was commissioned. This does not necessarily result in a transfer of ownership. Instead, the commissioner of the work may only get a limited non-exclusive licence. This situation demonstrates the importance of establishing who owns copyright through a contract.