Rojakorn Nanon is a businessman in Thailand. He used to feel weak and tired but then started drinking something each day that wakes him up and gives him energy.
Thailand, you see, is one of the top 25 coffee producers in the world, growing mainly arabica beans (the good kind) in the north and robusta beans (icky bitter) in the south. It would not be surprising if our friend Rojakorn discovered the wonders of a morning cup of coffee.
Twice each day, Rojakorn drinks crocodile blood mixed with alcohol. He gets the concoction from a nearby crocodile farm owner (largest croc farm in Trang province!), who sells the wonder drink for 200-300 baht per glass, about $6-9. A latte would be cheaper, even with a few extra shots, and it would be a much more traditional way to stay focused at work. When you live in a country where coffee is plentiful, there’s no need to think so far outside the box.
The same advice applies when addressing this commonly asked question: Should I give the company’s employee handbook to independent contractors?
The answer is almost always no. Don’t think outside the box on this one. An employee handbook is for employees. It explains employment policies. It provides detail about employees’ attendance rules, vacation time, leaves, exempt/non-exempt classification, and other terms that apply only to employees. These items don’t apply to independent contractors, and if you’re telling your independent contractors that you expect them to follow the policies in the handbook, you may be suggesting that all sorts of things apply them that should not apply to them.
Yes, it’s true that there are some workplace rules you’ll want your contractor to follow. Your discrimination and harassment policies, for example, can and should apply to contractors. But most of that other stuff doesn’t apply. You can include a clause in the independent contractor agreement that the contractor will not engage in any unlawful discrimination or harassment. A simple contractual requirement should be sufficient. Or you can provide a standalone copy of that policy, but you may need to modify it a bit to remove inapplicable parts or to change the terminology.
Many large companies, especially global companies, have Codes of Conduct that apply to vendors and suppliers. You can give those to independent contractors. They are intended to apply to non-employees, and they are written in a way that does not suggest an employment relationship.
You can also subject a contractor to premises rules that do not include control over how the work is done. You could require a contractor to comply with a weapons rule or a violence rule. You could require a contractor to comply with a rule prohibiting unauthorized visitors onsite. But don’t provide the full list of employee workplace rules that may be attached to your disciplinary policy, since many of those prohibitions are specific to employees.
When it comes to employee handbooks and independent contractors, keep it simple. Employee handbooks are for employees. In this situation, there’s no need to think outside the box.
© 2023 Todd Lebowitz, posted on WhoIsMyEmployee.com, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.