Today’s Tip: Avoid Telling Contractors How to Perform the Work (with Stones lyrics)

IMG_1066The great scholar Mick Jagger reminds his followers that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need. This is good advice, not just for Mr. Jimmy (who did look pretty ill), but also for companies who use independent contractors.

In a true independent contractor relationship, the hiring entity knows what it needs. It needs results, but the details about how, when, and where to work toward those results are left to the contractor’s discretion. There is no oversight or supervision.

The more direction a company provides a contractor on how to perform the work, the more likely the contractor is misclassified and the relationship will be deemed employment. You might want to control these things, but if they are not necessary to get what you need, then you should try sometimes and you might find you can get what you need without exerting extra control over the contractor.

There is no problem providing a contractor with detailed specifications about what the finished product must include, how it will function, or when it is due. The contractor, however, should then be left alone to determine how to achieve the desired result.

To protect independent contractor status, try to avoid:

  • Close oversight or supervision
  • Providing step-by-step instructions
  • Requiring frequent check-ins or progress reports
  • Telling the contractor when or where to do the work

Remember, the facts of the relationship determine whether someone is properly classified as an independent contractor. Calling the person an independent contractor makes little difference if the person is treated like an employee.

Click here to read more about why misclassification matters — or, what can go wrong. Click here or here or here for more tips on avoiding independent contractor miusclassification.

Summary: The Rolling Stones can provide sound business advice if you read enough into their lyrics to find things that aren’t really there.  And: an independent contractor is asked to provide results, but it is then up to the discretion of the contractor to determine how to achieve those results.

© 2017 Todd Lebowitz, posted on, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.

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