How Not to Make Sure Someone Is an Independent Contractor

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Earlier, I noted both the serious consequences for treating employees as an independent contractor and gave a rule of thumb for telling the difference. Here is what you should absolutely not do if you are trying to make sure that people are independent contractors:

Never have them sign an independent contractor agreement.

Painters never have to sign independent-contractor agreements. They don’t have to. Everyone knows they are not employees. But why would anyone require that someone doing work for them expressly agree to be an independent contractor and not an employee?

Independent contractor agreements don’t do much legally. They cannot turn an employee into an independent contractor. But they can show that whoever foisted it on the worker was trying to do just that.

Anyone who makes someone agree to be an independent contractor already has some doubt about whether that person really is an independent contractor. If they were sure, they wouldn’t worry about signing the agreement.

An employer that “willfully” treats an employee as an independent contractor is looking at a fine of at least $5,000 up to $15,000 or more. An employer who “willfully” doesn’t immediately pay employees all wages due them when they quit or are terminated can also pay a hefty penalty.

Independent contractor agreements protest too much. They show an employer “willfully” treating an employee as  an independent contractor. They are a subterfuge that will cost the employer thousands.

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