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Freelancing and Independent Contracting

Understand the distinctions and regulations for freelancers in Bangladesh

Difference employees and contractors

In Bangladesh, there isn't a specific law that differentiates between employees and independent contractors. However, the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 (BLA) defines "worker", a category under which employees fall, while independent contractors generally do not.


Employees in Bangladesh are under significant control of their employers regarding how, when, and where they perform their duties. This includes setting work schedules, providing specific instructions, and supervising work performance. On the other hand, independent contractors have more autonomy and control over their work methods and schedules. They are typically hired to achieve a specific result, not to follow a set of detailed instructions.


Employees receive a fixed salary or wage, often paid at regular intervals (weekly, monthly). Employers are responsible for withholding taxes and social security contributions from employee salaries. In contrast, independent contractors are paid a fixed fee for a completed project or service. They are responsible for filing their own taxes and paying any social security contributions.


Employees are entitled to various benefits mandated by law, such as paid leave, overtime pay, and social security benefits. Independent contractors, however, generally don't receive employee benefits.

Equipment and Tools

Employees typically use equipment and tools provided by the employer. Independent contractors, on the other hand, often use their own equipment and tools to complete the contracted work.


Employees are integrated into the employer's business structure, working alongside other employees and following company policies. Independent contractors are more independent, often working remotely and with minimal integration into the company's structure.

These are general guidelines. In case of any dispute, courts will assess the specific circumstances of the working relationship to determine whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor.

Independent contracting

Independent contracting offers a flexible work arrangement for both businesses and skilled individuals in Bangladesh. Understanding contract structures, negotiation practices, and prevalent industries for independent contractors is crucial to navigate this landscape.

Contract Structures

Formal contracts are essential for independent contracting in Bangladesh. Some common structures include:

  • Fixed-price contracts: These outline a specific project scope and a fixed fee for completion.
  • Time-based contracts: These specify an hourly or daily rate for the contractor's services over a defined period.
  • Retainer agreements: These secure the contractor's services for a set period with a regular retainer payment, often used for ongoing maintenance or support.

Additional considerations include clearly defining deliverables, timelines, and payment terms.

Negotiation Practices

Effective negotiation is key to successful independent contracting. Some practices include:

  • Researching market rates: Understand the typical fees for your skills and experience in Bangladesh.
  • Presenting your value proposition: Clearly articulate the benefits you bring to the project.
  • Starting with a high number: Aim slightly above your desired rate, allowing room for negotiation.
  • Being prepared to justify your rates: Highlight your skills, experience, and past successes.
  • Considering payment terms: Negotiate favorable payment terms, such as milestone payments or upfront deposits.

Common Industries for Independent Contractors

Several industries in Bangladesh heavily utilize independent contractors:

  • Information Technology (IT): Web developers, software programmers, graphic designers, and IT consultants.
  • Content Creation: Writers, editors, translators, and social media managers.
  • Marketing and Sales: Digital marketing specialists, market researchers, and freelance sales representatives.
  • Consulting: Management consultants, financial advisors, and legal consultants.

Additional industries such as accounting, engineering, and healthcare sectors also leverage independent contractors for specialized expertise. This list is not exhaustive, and many other industries can benefit from independent contracting arrangements.

Intellectual property rights

Freelancing and independent contracting in Bangladesh come with their own set of advantages, but intellectual property (IP) rights can be a complex area. The legal framework in Bangladesh doesn't explicitly address IP ownership for independent contractors. However, the Bangladesh Copyright Act, 2000 (BCRA) establishes the general principle that the creator of an original work holds the copyright. This implies that, by default, freelancers own the copyright to the work they produce, unless otherwise agreed upon in a contract.

Contractual Agreements

A well-defined contract is crucial to ensure clarity on IP ownership. Here are some considerations:

  • Transfer of Ownership: If the client desires ownership of the IP rights, the contract should explicitly state that the freelancer transfers ownership upon completion of the work. This transfer can be complete or partial, depending on the specific needs of the project.
  • Licensing Agreements: Instead of transferring ownership, the freelancer can grant the client a license to use the IP for a specific purpose or duration.

While India's legal system is separate from Bangladesh, it offers valuable insights applicable in the context of Bangladesh due to the similarities in common law principles.

Specific IP Considerations

  • Copyright: For creative works like writing, design, or software code, copyright protection is essential.
  • Trademarks: If a freelancer develops a logo or brand name for a client, trademark registration might be necessary.
  • Patents: For inventions or unique processes, patent registration secures exclusive rights.

Recommendations for Freelancers and Independent Contractors

  • Retain Copyright Ownership: By default, you own the copyright. Consider negotiating a transfer or license fee if ownership is crucial for the client.
  • Consult an IP Lawyer: For complex projects or valuable IP, seek legal advice to ensure you understand your rights and obligations.
  • Maintain Clear Records: Document the creation process and ownership of your work to strengthen your claims in case of disputes.

Tax and insurance

As a freelancer or independent contractor in Bangladesh, managing your own taxes is a crucial part of your business.

Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)

To start, you need to register for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the National Board of Revenue (NBR). This can be done online through the e-TIN portal.

Tax Exemption for IT and Software Development

There's a temporary tax exemption for income earned from software development, information technology-enabled services (ITES), and the Nationwide Telecommunications Transmission Network (NTTN). This exemption is valid until June 30, 2024. However, even if you're tax-exempt, you still need to file tax returns.

Income Tax Filing

After obtaining your TIN, you're responsible for filing income tax returns based on your freelance earnings. The progressive tax rates in Bangladesh range from 0% to 30%. You can file your taxes online using the NBR's E-Filing service.

Maintaining Records

To file your taxes accurately and avoid penalties, it's important to keep proper records of your income and business-related expenses. These records will help you calculate your taxable income and claim any eligible deductions.

When it comes to insurance, there's no mandatory social security system in Bangladesh. However, freelancers can consider various insurance options to manage potential risks and secure their well-being.

Health Insurance

Individual health insurance plans can cover hospitalization costs, doctor consultations, and other medical expenses.

Life Insurance

Life insurance provides financial security for your dependents in case of your unfortunate demise.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

This type of insurance protects you from financial liabilities arising from negligence or errors made while performing your freelance work.

Disability Insurance

Disability insurance offers financial support if you become unable to work due to illness or injury.

Insurance regulations in Bangladesh are overseen by the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA). It's advisable to research and compare plans offered by reputable insurance companies to find coverage that suits your specific needs and budget.

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