Hiring an Independent Contractor
The law provides a number of guidelines for what makes someone an independent contractor, rather than an employee. Generally, if you have the power to control the manner in which a worker does his/her job, then that person is likely an employee. If, however, you have little or no control over how he/she does the job, then it is likely that the person is an independent contractor. The line between employee and independent contractor can be blurry, however, and it is extremely important that you take certain precautions in hiring an independent contractor.
As an employer, your obligations to an independent contractor are somewhat different than those that you have to your employees.
When Can I Be Sued By an Independent Contractor That I Have Hired?
As an employer, you have a duty to maintain a safe work environment with adequate tools or instruments for the job(if the contract specifies that you will provide them). Your duty of care is normally lower when you have contracted to have repairs done to a specific job site.
The court will usually hold employers liable where they have hired an independent contractor to do work that is likely to create a risk of harm (such as construction) and where the employer has:
- failed to include in the contract that the independent contractor must take precautions to protect against that risk; or
- failed to exercise reasonable care in taking precautions to protect against that risk
Important Precautions to Take When Hiring an Independent Contractor:
Employing independent contractors requires that you take certain precautions to protect yourself from liability and maintain a smooth employment relationship.
The contract that you and the independent contractor create is one of the best ways to protect yourself from liability, and should include provisions for the following:
- services to be performed and the expected time period for those services to be completed;
- confidentiality obligations;
- any subcontracted employees/companies that will be involved
Should I Contact an Attorney?
If you have become involved in a dispute with an independent contractor that you have hired, you should contact an attorney immediately who has experience in business and/or contract law. He or she will not only be able to represent you in any actions brought against you, but can also help preserve and protect your rights as an employer.
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Last Modified: 09-26-2011 03:52 PM PDT