Things to Know Before You Sign an Independent Contractor Agreement

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Lots of homeschool organizations hire independent contractors (IC), usually as teachers in a class for homeschool students.

Here’s a great list of things to consider including in your IC agreements. It’s advice to the contractor, but the information is helpful to homeschool leaders hiring ICs, too. Don’t treat them like employees if they are paid like independent contractors.

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11 Things to Know Before You Sign an Independent Contractor Agreement

(edited for bevity)

1. Intellectual property. If you are creating art, written work, computer programs or other creative works, then it may be an advantage to you to be an independent contractor. Generally, you own the copyright to works created as a contractor. But get it in writing!

2. Taxes. As a contractor, you’ll pay both halves of your Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you’re an employee, the employer pays half. This is a big chunk of pay to give up, so be sure you’re really a contractor before you sign. And be sure to set aside about 15%-25% of your pay to cover the taxes.

3. Control. If you perform services for someone and they control what you do and how you do it, you’re probably an employee. Independent contractors do the work where, when and how they choose. Nobody tells them what order to do the job in, what hours to work, or when they can take off. But, obviously, if you’re hired to teach a class, show up when the class is held. Duh!

4. Equipment and supplies. Independent contractors generally use their own equipment and supplies.

5. Assistants. If you are told who will assist you and can’t choose anyone you want to help you with your tasks, then you may be an employee. Independent contractors can usually hire their own assistants, or choose to work alone.

6. Evaluations. If you are evaluated about the process, details and methods of your work, you may be an employee. An independent contractor is evaluated on results — the end product, not the procedures used.

7. Training. If the company trains you on how they want the job done and the specific procedures to be used, then this is a good indication that you’re an employee. Training for independent contractors should be minimal — instruction on the overall results needed only.

8. Financial control. Pay for employees is normally done by the hour, day or week. Contractors are more frequently paid by the job, although are sometimes paid hourly. A contractor will have more opportunity to make a profit or take a loss than an employee.

9. Opportunity to work elsewhere. Contractors frequently advertise and are considered free to take work from other companies. Employees usually have to work for a single employer only.

10. Benefits. If the company provides insurance, sick days, vacation time, pension or other benefits, then you are likely an employee.

11. Indefinite time. If you are hired for an indefinite period of time, as opposed to working on a specific project or series of projects, then you may be an employee.

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Need more help composing an independent contractor agreement? I’m updating my book, Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization this summer. It will have sample IC agreements. If you can’t wait until it’s ready, the current ebook as a very usable agreement to get your started.

Carol Topp, CPA

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Comments

  1. Hi Carol,

    For safety reasons, our group always seeks to have a minimum of 2 non-related adults to a classroom. Our classroom helpers assist the teacher & are volunteers that our group arranges. When a teacher submits their class proposals, there is room on their form to request a specific class helper. Most do not request one so we then arrange for one of our choosing.

    Is this crossing the line into an employer role that you describe in point #5 on assistants?

    Thanks in advance!
    Jill

  2. Carol Topp says:

    Jill, I doubt your practice of assigning a volunteer helper would be significant enough to change the worker classification, but all factors need to be taken into account when determining if a worker is an employee or Independent Contractor. I offer a service to help you make that determination. http://homeschoolcpa.com/services/worker-classification-consultation/.

    Carol Topp, CPA

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