Rivermate | Fiji flag


Freelancing and Independent Contracting

Understand the distinctions and regulations for freelancers in Fiji

Difference employees and contractors

In Fiji, the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor is crucial for both businesses and workers. This distinction impacts rights, obligations, and tax implications.


An employee is under the significant control of the employer. This includes dictating work hours, schedules, location, methods, and tools used. On the other hand, an independent contractor has autonomy over how they perform the work. The business may only specify the desired outcome, not the process.


An employee is an integral part of the business's operations. Their work directly contributes to the core function of the company. In contrast, an independent contractor provides a specific service and is not essential to the core business activities.

Economic Dependence

An employee relies on the employer for their income and has limited opportunity to work for others. Conversely, an independent contractor has their own business or works for multiple clients, reducing their dependence on a single entity.

Benefits and Entitlements

An employee is entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay, sick leave, and other benefits mandated by the ERA 1996 (Fiji) and other relevant employment legislation. They are also covered by Fiji's social security schemes. An independent contractor, being considered self-employed, is not entitled to these employee benefits. They are responsible for their own taxes and social security contributions.

These are just some of the key factors considered by Fijian courts and tribunals when determining worker classification. In borderline cases, a broader assessment of the working relationship may be undertaken.

Independent contracting

Independent contracting is a flexible work arrangement that is beneficial for both businesses and skilled individuals in Fiji. However, understanding the nuances is crucial to navigate the legalities and maximize the benefits.

Contract Structures

A well-defined contract is crucial for successful independent contracting. Common structures include:

  • Fixed-price contracts: These specify a total fee for a defined project or service.
  • Time-based contracts: These outline an hourly or daily rate for the time spent on the project.
  • Retainer agreements: These guarantee a set fee for ongoing services over a specific period.

It's important to note that the Ministry of Employment, Industries, and Vocational Training (MEIVT) doesn't provide standard contract templates. Therefore, consulting a lawyer specializing in Fijian employment law is recommended to ensure the contract adheres to local regulations.

Negotiation Practices

Effective negotiation is key to securing a fair and beneficial contract for both parties. Here are some pointers:

  • Clearly define deliverables and timelines: Outline expectations for the project scope, milestones, and deadlines.
  • Discuss payment terms: Negotiate the payment schedule, including upfront deposits, milestone payments, and final payment terms.

It's important to remember that Fijian culture emphasizes respect and open communication. Therefore, negotiations should be conducted in a professional and courteous manner.

Common Industries for Independent Contracting

Several industries in Fiji frequently utilize independent contractors:

  • Information Technology (IT): Web developers, programmers, and IT consultants are in high demand.
  • Creative Industries: Graphic designers, writers, and marketing professionals often find freelance opportunities.
  • Professional Services: Lawyers, accountants, and engineers can leverage their expertise through independent contracting.

The growing Fijian economy presents a promising landscape for skilled independent contractors across various sectors.

Intellectual property rights

Freelancing and independent contracting offer a flexible work style, but ownership of intellectual property (IP) created during projects can be a source of confusion.

Copyright protects original creative works such as writing, designs, photographs, and software. In Fiji, the Copyright Act, 1998 grants copyright ownership to the creator by default. This means as a freelancer, you typically own the copyright to the work you produce, even if commissioned by a client.

However, there are exceptions:

  • Work Made for Hire: If there's a written agreement specifying the client as the copyright owner, the client owns the copyright.
  • Moral Rights: Even if a client owns the copyright, you retain certain moral rights, such as the right to be identified as the creator.

Contractual Agreements

Freelance and independent contractor agreements are crucial for outlining IP ownership. These agreements should clearly state:

  • Who owns the copyright: If you intend to retain ownership, the agreement should explicitly state this.
  • Client usage rights: Define the scope of how the client can use your work (e.g., exclusive rights, modifications allowed).
  • Moral rights waiver: If you agree to waive your moral rights, ensure you're adequately compensated.

Consulting a lawyer specializing in intellectual property is recommended to ensure your agreements are legally sound and protect your rights.

Additional Considerations

  • Trademarks and Patents: These forms of IP require registration. If your work involves trademarks or inventions, research registration procedures to protect your rights.
  • Confidentiality: If you're exposed to the client's confidential information, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is essential.

Tax and insurance

As a freelancer or independent contractor in Fiji, managing your tax obligations is a key responsibility. This includes understanding and complying with relevant taxes such as income tax, Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) contributions, and Value Added Tax (VAT).

Income Tax

Income tax applies to the income you earn from your freelance work. Registration for income tax with the Fiji Revenue & Customs Service (FRCS) is required, and tax returns must be filed annually. The Income Tax Act (Chapter 161) of Fiji provides the income tax framework for individuals and businesses, including freelancers.

Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF)

FNPF contributions, typically deducted from salaried employee income, can also be made voluntarily by freelancers. These contributions can provide retirement savings and social security benefits. The Fiji National Provident Fund Act (Cap. 256) establishes the FNPF and its contribution requirements.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Freelancers in Fiji are generally not required to register for VAT unless their annual taxable supplies and imports exceed FJD$100,000. If this threshold is surpassed, VAT registration is necessary, and VAT must be collected and paid on your services. The Value Added Tax Act (Cap. V11) defines the rules and regulations for VAT registration and compliance in Fiji.

Insurance coverage is also crucial for freelancers to protect themselves from financial risks. Some insurance options to consider include:

Public Liability Insurance

This insurance protects you from legal liability if someone is injured or their property is damaged due to your work.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

This insurance safeguards you from financial losses if a client sues you for negligence or breach of contract related to your professional services.

Income Protection Insurance

This insurance replaces a portion of your income if you're unable to work due to illness, injury, or disability.

Critical Illness Insurance

This insurance provides a lump sum payment if you are diagnosed with a critical illness, helping you manage medical costs and financial burdens.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.