In two prior posts (Top Myths About Hiring Independent Contractors and More Myths About Hiring Independent Contractors), we identified six common misconceptions about the use of independent contractors, each of which continues to result in the misclassification of independent contractors by employers. Here, we identify two more common misconceptions about independent contractors that almost always lead to liability for employers.
Myth #7: Part-time workers can be classified as independent contractors before they are hired as full-time employees.
No, absolutely not. A business cannot have the same person performing the same type of work as both an independent contractor and, later, as an employee, or vice-versa. Either someone is an employee, or they’re not. It doesn’t matter how many hours they work, or if the relationship is short-term. In the former situation, they would be a part-time employee, and in the latter situation, they would be a temporary employee. In all cases, they are employees.
Myth #8: It’s ok to treat a worker who performs the same job as an employee as an independent contractor for [fill-in-the-blank] reason.
This is also a definite no-no. A business simply can’t have the same workers performing the same job with different classifications. The reason for this is that the inquiry into whether a worker is an independent contractor or not focuses on how integral the job is to the business (i.e., if you are a web design firm, your web designers are employees) and the level of control the business has over the worker (i.e., hours of work, schedule, methods, etc.).
These two misconceptions serve as a reminder that there is no shortcut for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Rather, how a particular worker should be classified requires a comprehensive fact-and-circumstances inquiry unique to the worker and the business. If you’d like to learn more, read Is Your Worker an Independent Contractor or Employee?