Many escorts like the security and convenience of working for an agency. Marketing, bookkeeping and client contact lists are managed by somebody else, leaving them extra time to do other things. However, when you are an independent contractor for an agency, you have to make sure your interests are protected through your contract.
«It is important to make sure you get a copy of any contract you have signed to keep for your own personal record. In the event of dispute or anything going awry you may need it to protect your own interest. I have been surprised at several agencies insisting on a signed contract, but then refusing to provide personal copy of the contract stating confidentiality reasons. That is a big red flag.»
— Rachel Dawson, PrivateViewings.net
Every legitimate agency should present you with a contract, prior to you performing any work for them. A contract is the written agreement between you and the agency. A good contract defines the role between you and the agency, with specific details that clarify all employment terms. To guarantee that your experience with an agency is the best it can be, look for these 15 stipulations:
- There should be no blanks in the contract. Often, during the negotiation part of the hiring process, a company will leave blanks in a contract that will be filled in when the employer and the contractor agree on specific terms such as compensation, start date or other details. Usually, as these details are established, the blanks will be filled in. However, a disreputable company may request that you sign the contract, with the promise that they will type in the details at a later date. Do not fall for this! Under this agreement, a company could fill in any details it wants, and claim that you agreed to them. Ensure that all blanks are filled in prior to signing anything. Additionally, if any portion of the contract is changed, it’s a wise idea for both you and the agency representative to initial any deletions or changes to show you both approve the altered terms.
- Financial terms, including compensation and bonuses, must be included in the contract. Agencies are notorious for failing to live up to promised rates. Many escorts have found themselves on the short end of the stick many times when they got their cut from encounters, partially because they never got anything in writing about the rates they were working for. When you sign a contract, the terms of how much you get paid per hour should be very clearly stated. Any opportunities for raises should be detailed, along with the terms required for such. Commission rates should be defined. Payment methods should be explained within the contract, too. Frequency should be addressed, because you need to know when you will be paid for your work. Some agencies require an escort to pay all of the money up front to them, and they distribute the cut to the escorts. Others, though, allow the escorts to keep the money and pay them the commission that is due after encounters. If this is the case, details should be provided in the contract that indicate how soon an escort must pay the commission for encounters booked.
- Rights and responsibilities of both the escort and the agency should be explicitly written out. These details are often scattered throughout a contract, as they may relate to different sections. However, it’s important to make sure they are clear. An escort should look for the right to deny any clients or encounters she wants for just cause. You need to have some control over who you see and where you see them, and if you have a good reason for denying a client, it should be accepted by the agency. Another right to look for within a contract is the ability to establish your own schedule (for the most part). It’s nice to know that you can say which days or hours you will work, as long as they are reasonable. If the agency lists escort responsibilities including photos for advertising, your own mobile phone and coverage of travel costs, know that these items may dip into your earnings. Important agency responsibilities to make sure are included in the contract are: in-depth screening of clients and finding/scheduling appointments.
- The parties in the agreement and their relationships should be clearly defined. Obviously, your name should be listed in the contract, just as the company name should be for the escort agency. If the company is a subsidiary of another, the parent company should be listed. It is important for the contract to define your working relationship with the company. If you’re an employee, it should state that and provide details for compensation and employee benefits you will receive. However, most escorts work as independent contractors for agencies. This means that the agency will not pay any taxes for your income, pay in to unemployment insurance on your behalf or provide other benefits reserved for full-time employees. If the name or relationship information is missing from the contract, refuse to sign it. And, if the name of the agency on the contract differs from the agency name you will be working under, ask for a corrected version.
- Renewal details are something to consider. Many general employment contracts include automatic renewal procedures. This makes it easy for ongoing relationships to continue without pause. However, if no mention of renewal is made in the contract, automatic renewal should never be assumed. Many agencies cheat escorts by allowing contracts to expire and changing commission fees or other payment terms without notice, because an active contract is not in place. Look for an automatic renewal clause, or be sure to get a new contract when yours expires.
- Harm and indemnification provisions are important if something bad happens. Escorts never want to think of anything bad ever happening to them. But, when you work in a risky industry, the odds are in favor that something bad may occur eventually. When it does, it would be nice to know that someone is there to help you out. Most agencies have vague policies about this, but it’s never wise to sign a contract that releases an agency from full liability from harm. Attempt to renegotiate for some protection or compensation should a bad situation arise, such as an assault from a client. Would the agency cover your hospital or doctor bills? Would they provide you with minimum income should you become injured while on a call for them? In addition to being harmed on the job, it’s possible that you could be arrested. Will the agency bail you out or assist you with legal counsel? These conditions are rarely included in a contract, but it would be reasonable to discuss them in negotiations.
- Penalties for defaulting on the agreement should be specified in a contract. If you fail to perform expected duties of your role as an escort, there may be penalties associated with that. A good agency will spell those out in the contract so escorts are aware of them. If your contract does not include them, your agency may slap on any penalties they wish without being held to any restrictions or guidelines. This leaves you in a position to be taken advantage of easily. If penalties are not included in the contract, request for them to be written in prior to signing on the dotted line.
- Dates for the contract need to be filled in. Usually, the dates for a contract are the last things to be added, due to start dates being flexible when an escort begins working for an agency. However, do not sign anything that does not indicate when the contract goes into effect. If you start working for an agency before your contract is effectual, they are under no obligations to fulfill the terms you’ve agreed upon. Additionally, pay attention to the end date of the contract. If you work past that date and the contract does not renew, the agency may drastically change the terms that you work under, and you will have no recourse.
- Grounds for contract termination should be clear. Typically, a contract includes a section that defines the conditions for termination for both parties. Many escort agency contracts include the phrase “at will” when discussing termination guidelines. This means that the contract may be terminated for any reason, whether it’s justifiable or not. This isn’t always a good situation o put yourself into. Suggest that the phrase be exchanged with “for just cause.” The phrase change will require the agency to provide a reason for terminating your relationship with them. It protects you a bit more and still provides the agency with the opportunity of ending the agreement fairly easily. Within this same section of the contract, terms about your rights to terminate the contract should be addressed, along with the method required to exercise that option.
- An escort’s job description, including duties and expectations, should be defined in clear language. It should be stated within the contract that you are an escort who is paid to spend time with clients. The fact that you are paid for your time (by the hour) should be expressed explicitly. Any details about the agency not being responsible for anything that happens behind closed doors, etc., should be excluded. Verbiage like that is not required in a contract.
- Non-compete clauses are common inclusions in contracts. They are also called restrictive covenants. Many escort agencies would like to restrict their escorts from opening up a similar business or going to work for another agency that competes for business, should they leave at any time. However, for your line of work, this is just not good. Even if the clause term is for a reasonable period (one year), it’s still not in your best interest to sign a contract including this provision. It restricts your ability to work should you and the agency choose to go separate ways.
- Most contracts will include a confidentiality clause. It’s extremely common (and smart) for an agency to require its escorts to keep quiet about client lists and the processes it uses for gaining and scheduling clients. Agencies don’t want to share business with others, so it’s essential to keep client lists under wraps. (Additionally, the clients expect complete discretion, too.) This clause prevents you from moving to another agency and sharing company secrets.
- Agencies often put a “non-solicitation of clients” clause into their contracts. It’s wise for agencies to restrict an escort’s right to contact clients on her own, especially if she leaves to work for another agency. But, it may not be wise for you to sign a contract with this provision. If you brought a client to the agency, it’s unfair for you to be restricted from keeping him as a client when you leave. These post-employment restrictions usually last for a timeframe ranging from one to two years. If you are presented with a contract with this clause, attempt to have it removed or decrease the period it’s effectual for.
- Several agencies expect their escorts to work exclusively for them and insert this requirement into the contract. If your agency can keep you busy with quality clients, this may be a provision that is easy to accept. However, some escorts sign contracts like this, only to find out they aren’t getting as much work as they expected. They seek outside encounters to pay their bills. When an agency hears about moonlighting efforts, the agency may fire or strictly penalize an escort. Avoid contracts with this clause, if possible.
- Always read your contract fully before signing. Never allow an agency to rush you into signing anything. And, if the contract was changed in any way, reread the freshly-printed, finished contract before signing it (to ensure no other changes were made).