Various theories have been circulating to try to explain the odd behavior, including that it may be some sort of bacteria-induced delirium.
But I think I know the real reason. (And a hearty Mazel Tov! to the wooly couple!)
When drafting independent contractor agreements, it’s never a good idea to be unsure of why you’re doing something. Too often, businesses use generic agreements and don’t understand the impact or purpose of what they’ve written.
One common place I see mistakes is in the very beginning of contracts – the contractual recitals.
Recitals are often used to provide context for the reader. Recitals are also used for six-year old piano players to play chopsticks for grandma, but that’s for another day. For example, an off-the-shelf independent contractor agreement might start with something like this: We’re in the business of doing X, and we are retaining Contractor to do this part of X. Therefore, the parties agree to the following terms.
The problem with that innocent sounding recital is that it may be evidence the contractor is misclassified.
Under a Strict ABC Test, if the work being performed by the contractor is within the hiring party’s usual course of business, the contractor is automatically considered an employee. That fact fails prong B of a strict ABC Test.
Under an Economic Realities Test or a Right to Control Test, one of the factors often considered is often whether the work being performed is “an integral part” of the business, or some variation on that theme. Unlike ABC Tests, these tests are balancing tests and so one factor will not necessarily determine a worker’s classification, but there’s no reason to give the factor away, especially in a contract recital.
In a misclassification challenge, every fact and contract term will be subject to scrutiny.
If you’re unsure whether the term is needed, then question whether to include it. Recitals generally aren’t needed at all, and I often omit them from my independent contractor agreements. Don’t include off-the-shelf terms if you don’t understand their effect.
Unexplainable behavior makes for good blog posts and tweets, but not good contracts.
Which is why I never ask unfamiliar sheep to help me draft contracts.
© 2022 Todd Lebowitz, posted on WhoIsMyEmployee.com, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.