How long is too long for payment on a contract?

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How long is too long for payment on a contract?

I have not been paid for over a month on services that I did. They keep saying soon, what can I do?

Asked on November 1, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Payment terms are typically governed by the contract itself; i.e. a contract ideally should state either a date certain for payment, or a period of time (e.g. "payment within 30 days after completion"). If it does not, if there is a common payment term for your industry or type of work, it may be  the case that it--that length of time--is effectively incorporated into the contract, but only if it  is common and well known. For example, in the educational publishing industry, it is common for freelance writers and editors to be paid "net 30"--or 30 days after completion. Similarly, if you've worked for this company before, you can reference prior payment terms.

If there is nothing in the contract and no relevant guidance from past practice with this company or from the industry, then there is no hard and fast date by which you had to be  paid. At  the point at which you feel they are not going to pay you and cannot or will not even put a date in writing to give you an expectation of payment, that's probably when to talk to an attorney or (for a smaller contract) consider bringing a claim in small claims court--the only way to enforce payment on contracts is to sue.


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