Working with independent contractors

Friday November 2, 2018

Finding an independent contractor to work with can seem like a breeze these days. More and more people are leaving full-time employment for the thrill of being their own boss and chasing the dream of flexible hours.

It’s been reported that almost three quarters of Australian businesses have been using contractors for some time. So chances are you regularly hear from prospects offering a unique and desirable set of skills. Combine this with the reduction on your overheads and working with an independent contractor sounds simple, right?

The first difficulty is finding the right one. But we know all too well that the struggles don’t end there. Terms such as independent are often met with the expectation of no-strings-attached. But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Companies such as Uber and Deliveroo have publicly met the misunderstanding when using workers who aren’t technically employed. To avoid a costly mishap of your own, read on for our top tips on how to work with independent contractors and enjoy the many benefits.

Cover yourself

Not all independents will require you to draw up a contract to work with them. However, if you intend on using them more than once we believe it to be in your best interests to have a contract. At the very least, a policy for working with independent contractors. This can be useful for both parties to understand all terms of the working agreement.

There are many variables to consider when working with independent contractors. Some can even affect their employment status and your legal obligations. It would be best to triple check all the finer details as assumptions on employment status can come back to bite you.

Don’t skip the onboarding

It might seem like skipping the usual onboarding process will save you time, but actually it can end up being quite the opposite.

Inviting an independent contractor to your work premises and introducing them to the employees that they will be working with can prove to be a useful exercise for all involved. Introductions can be made in person, points of contact can be clarified, and a personal representation of your company culture can do some great groundwork for building a successful relationship.

Set milestones

There is nothing worse than sending them on their way with a brief only to find out the work was completely misunderstood on deadline day six weeks later. Groan.

If an independent contractor is working remotely and you will not be seeing them again for some time, consider setting some milestones for a project which will allow you to keep an eye on progress. Micro-managing will likely drive you both mad, but a set of mini deadlines could be the solution.

Revisit the plan

We all know that plans can change over time, and it’s not uncommon for work required to change or even grow. When working with an independent contractor, it’s best to discuss their hourly rate at the very start of your working relationship. As whilst they may be more than happy to accept more work, they may not always volunteer the fact that it could cost more. It would be best to raise the question just to be certain.

In addition to keeping track of costs, it would be a good idea to revisit your overall arrangement from time to time. What might feel like an insignificant change in your agreement could have legal ramifications. We suggest scheduling regular reviews of your independent contractor policy to ensure you are always up to date.

Working with independent contractors is not always as it seems. Get in touch with your local HR Dept professional today for peace of mind.

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