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Burkina Faso

Freelancing and Independent Contracting

Understand the distinctions and regulations for freelancers in Burkina Faso

Difference employees and contractors

In Burkina Faso, the labor law framework differentiates between employees and independent contractors. This distinction is crucial for businesses to ensure compliance with labor regulations and social security contributions.


Employees in Burkina Faso are under significant control from their employers. This control extends to scheduling, work methods, and tools used. On the other hand, independent contractors have autonomy over how they complete their work, with minimal control from the hiring party.


Employees are integrated into the company's structure, adhering to company policies and procedures. In contrast, independent contractors operate independently, with minimal involvement in the company's internal affairs.


Employees rely on the company for their income and livelihood. Conversely, independent contractors have their own client base and generate income from various sources.

Social Security

Employers withhold social security contributions from the employee's salary. However, independent contractors are responsible for their own social security contributions.

This is a simplified overview, and the specific circumstances of each engagement will determine the worker's classification.

For businesses unsure about a worker's classification, Burkina Faso's Ministry of Labor offers guidance and clarification. Misclassification can lead to penalties and liabilities, so seeking professional legal advice is recommended for complex situations.

Independent contracting

Independent contracting offers a flexible work arrangement in Burkina Faso, but understanding its complexities is crucial. This guide will delve into contract structures, negotiation practices, and prevalent industries for independent contractors in the country.

Contract Structures

In Burkina Faso, the law mandates a written contract for independent contractor engagements. Here are some key elements to consider:

  • Scope of Work: The services to be rendered, deliverables, and timelines should be clearly defined.
  • Compensation: The fee structure (fixed fee, hourly rate, etc.) and payment terms should be specified.
  • Confidentiality: Expectations regarding the confidentiality of sensitive information should be outlined.
  • Termination: Clear grounds and procedures for terminating the contract by either party should be established.

Negotiation Practices

Negotiating a comprehensive contract that is fair to both parties is essential. Common practices in Burkina Faso include:

  • Initial Discussions: Project expectations, timelines, and compensation range should be clearly communicated before drafting the contract.
  • Focus on Collaboration: Negotiation should be a collaborative process to ensure mutually beneficial terms.
  • Legal Counsel: It is recommended to consult a lawyer familiar with Burkina Faso's labor laws, especially for complex contracts.

Common Industries for Independent Contractors

Several industries in Burkina Faso heavily utilize independent contractors:

  • Information Technology (IT): Software developers, web designers, and IT consultants are in high demand.
  • Creative Industries: Graphic designers, writers, and translators often work as independent contractors.
  • Consulting: Businesses frequently engage independent consultants for expertise in marketing, finance, or human resources.
  • Construction: Specialized contractors like electricians, plumbers, and masons are often hired on a project basis.

This list is not exhaustive, and independent contracting opportunities exist across various sectors in Burkina Faso's growing economy.

Intellectual property rights

Freelancers and independent contractors in Burkina Faso need to understand intellectual property (IP) rights to safeguard their creative works and ensure ownership.

H3 Ownership of Work Product

The general rule is that in the absence of a written agreement, the creator (freelancer/contractor) holds the copyright to their original work product. This includes written content, designs, and software code. Burkina Faso adheres to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which upholds creators' rights.

H3 Contractual Arrangements

Ownership rights should be clearly defined in a written contract. The contract can specify if the client acquires full or partial ownership of the work product. If the work is explicitly classified as "work made for hire" in the contract, ownership may transfer to the client upon creation. However, Burkina Faso recognizes "moral rights" that always remain with the creator, regardless of ownership rights. These moral rights include the right to attribution and the right to object to derogatory treatment of the work.

H3 Protecting Your Work

While not mandatory, registering copyrights with the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) provides stronger legal protection and facilitates enforcement. If working with confidential client information, include a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in the contract. Consulting an IP lawyer familiar with Burkina Faso's laws is advisable for complex situations or high-value projects.

Tax and insurance

Freelancers and independent contractors in Burkina Faso are subject to income tax and may need to register for VAT if their annual turnover exceeds a certain threshold. They are also required to make social contributions to cover benefits such as retirement and healthcare. The tax regime is governed by the General Tax Code of Burkina Faso (Livre des procédures fiscales du Burkina Faso), and the specific contribution rates and procedures are established by the Social Security Code of Burkina Faso (Code de la sécurité sociale du Burkina Faso).

Tax Obligations

  • Income Tax: Income earned from freelance or contracting work is subject to progressive income tax rates. The specific rate applicable depends on the total annual income.
  • VAT (Value Added Tax): Freelancers and contractors may need to register for VAT if their annual turnover exceeds a certain threshold set by the authorities. VAT registration subjects them to collecting and remitting VAT on their invoices.
  • Social Contributions: Self-employed individuals are required to make social contributions to cover benefits such as retirement and healthcare.

Tax Registration and Filing

Freelancers and contractors must register with the tax authorities and obtain a Tax Identification Number (Numéro d'identification fiscale - NIF). They are then responsible for filing tax returns and paying taxes owed on a periodic basis. The specific deadlines and procedures for registration and filing are outlined by the tax authorities.

Insurance Options

While not mandatory, health insurance and other forms of social security are crucial for freelancers and contractors.

  • Private Health Insurance: Several private insurance companies offer health insurance plans for individuals. These plans can provide coverage for medical expenses, hospitalization, and other healthcare needs.
  • Social Security for Self-Employed: Burkina Faso offers voluntary social security programs for self-employed individuals. These programs can provide benefits such as retirement pensions and unemployment insurance.

Choosing the Right Insurance

The choice of insurance depends on individual needs and circumstances. Factors to consider include:

  • Age and health condition
  • Desired level of coverage
  • Budgetary constraints
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