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Freelancing and Independent Contracting

Understand the distinctions and regulations for freelancers in Guinea-Bissau

Difference employees and contractors

In Guinea-Bissau, distinguishing between employees and independent contractors is crucial for both workers and businesses, as misclassification can lead to legal and financial repercussions.

The Control Test

Courts in Guinea-Bissau often rely on the control test, similar to many other jurisdictions. This test evaluates the level of control an employer exerts over the worker.


An employer has the right to control various aspects of an employee's work, including:

  • Method and manner of work performance (specific tools, work hours)
  • Integration into the business (performing core functions of the business)
  • Provision of equipment and materials

The Guinea-Bissau Labor Law (Código de Trabalho) Articles 21 and following establish the general employer-employee relationship, outlining rights and obligations for both parties.

Independent Contractor

An independent contractor has more autonomy and control over their work, with the employer primarily concerned with the end result rather than the specific methods used to achieve it. However, limited information is available on relevant court cases in Guinea-Bissau, making referencing specific rulings challenging in establishing legal precedent.

Additional Factors

Beyond control, courts might consider other factors when evaluating worker classification:

  • Economic Dependence: Does the worker rely on the employer for a significant portion of their income?
  • Investment: Does the worker invest their own resources (equipment, tools) in performing the work?
  • Opportunity for Profit or Loss: Can the worker take on additional clients or projects, or are they limited to working solely for the employer?

Importance of Classification

Correct classification is crucial for both employers and contractors:

  • Employers: Misclassifying an employee as a contractor can lead to liabilities for unpaid wages, social security contributions, and other benefits.
  • Contractors: Being wrongly classified as an employee can deny them tax benefits associated with running their own business and limit their control over their work.

Independent contracting

Guinea-Bissau's economy is growing, providing opportunities for independent contractors. To navigate this landscape, it's important to understand contract structures, negotiation practices, and the industries that are prevalent in the country.

Contract Structures

In an independent contractor arrangement, a well-defined contract protects both parties. In Guinea-Bissau, common structures include:

  • Prestação de serviços (Service provision contract): This contract type outlines the work scope, deliverables, fees, and payment terms.
  • Contrato de empreitada (Work contract): This contract focuses on the specific task or service to be delivered, with less emphasis on the methods used by the contractor.
  • Contrato a prazo determinado (Fixed-term contract): This contract specifies a defined project or task with a set completion date and payment upon completion.

The most suitable structure depends on the specific project and working relationship. It's recommended to consult a lawyer familiar with Guinean-Bissau law to ensure the chosen contract aligns with legal requirements.

Negotiation Practices

Effective negotiation is key to securing favorable terms as an independent contractor:

  • Clearly define deliverables and timelines: Set clear expectations for the project scope, timeframe, and expected outcomes to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Negotiate fees: Research industry standards for similar services in Guinea-Bissau, considering your experience and expertise. Negotiate a fair rate that reflects your value proposition.
  • Payment terms: Establish clear payment schedules, including milestone payments if applicable, and secure a reliable payment method. Guinea-Bissau law mandates timely payment for services rendered.
  • Termination clauses: Outline the terms under which either party can terminate the contract and any associated fees or penalties.

Common Industries for Independent Contractors

Several industries in Guinea-Bissau benefit from the expertise of independent contractors:

  • Agriculture: Agribusinesses might require specialists like agronomists or consultants for project-based work.
  • Cashew Processing: This major industry in Guinea-Bissau offers opportunities for freelance quality control specialists or logistics coordinators.
  • Construction: Skilled laborers like electricians, plumbers, and carpenters can find contract work on various construction projects.
  • Tourism: The growing tourism sector seeks freelance tour guides, translators, and marketing specialists.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services of Guinea-Bissau (CCIB) can be a valuable resource for freelancers, providing information on relevant sectors and networking opportunities. By understanding contract structures, negotiation practices, and prevalent industries, freelancers can position themselves for success in this dynamic market.

Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property (IP) rights are crucial for freelancers and independent contractors in Guinea-Bissau to safeguard their creative works and inventions.

Guinea-Bissau adheres to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. This implies that literary works (written content), artistic works (illustrations, designs), and software created by freelancers are automatically copyrighted upon creation without registration.

The Copyright Law of Guinea-Bissau (Law No. 5/94) grants copyright holders exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, adapt, and publicly display their work. Freelancers can license or assign these rights through contracts with clients.


Guinea-Bissau is a member of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Trademarks used to identify a freelancer's services can be registered with the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) for exclusive use. Registration strengthens a freelancer's claim to the trademark and simplifies legal action against infringement.

Trade Secrets

Freelancers may possess confidential client information or trade secrets. Guinea-Bissau's Civil Code recognizes the protection of confidential information. Freelancers have a contractual obligation to keep confidential information secret unless disclosure is legally mandated.

Contractual Considerations

Clearly define ownership of intellectual property rights in contracts with clients. Specify deliverables, including work product ownership and licensing terms. If using open-source software in projects, ensure compliance with the specific open-source license terms to avoid copyright infringement.

Tax and insurance

In Guinea-Bissau, freelancers and independent contractors have specific tax regulations and insurance options to consider.

Tax Obligations

Freelancers and independent contractors are required to register with the Directorate-General of Taxes (DGI) to obtain a tax identification number (NIF). The income earned from freelance work is subject to a progressive income tax regime under the General Tax Code. The tax rates vary depending on the annual income.

While freelancers are generally not required to make social security contributions, they may opt for voluntary contributions to secure future social security benefits. It's important to note that freelancers must file tax returns and pay taxes periodically, adhering to the deadlines set by the DGI.

Insurance Options

Guinea-Bissau does not mandate specific insurance coverage for freelancers. However, freelancers can consider voluntary health insurance, professional liability insurance, or other relevant coverage plans to protect themselves against potential risks.

Health insurance can help cover medical expenses, while professional liability insurance can provide protection against claims of negligence or errors made while performing freelance work. Other insurance options, like property damage or equipment insurance, may be relevant depending on the nature of your freelance activity.

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