Classifying An Evolving Workforce.

Another update from the HR jungle…
image010Tom owns a construction business doing renovations and remodels. In the early days he classified all his workers as independent contractors. All the workers had years of experience, brought their own tools and Tom mostly just matched a worker with a homeowner. The worker did the job and Tom billed the homeowner.

As the years have gone by and his revenue has increased, Tom rented warehouse space with an office and storage space for equipment and supplies. The business now owns most of the tools and equipment used on the job, some of it donated by older workers who retired.

Tom also switched from experienced workers (too many retired on him) to hiring inexperienced workers. He pairs the young workers with an experienced older worker for training purposes. The younger workers generally use the tools and equipment owned by the business. All this means is that Tom is beginning to wonder if his old independent contractor classification still fits his workforce.

What are Tom’s options?

  1. He can continue classifying his workers as independent contractors and hope for the best.
  2. He can hire an HR consultant to help him do some general review of the IRS and DOL criteria for differentiating independent contractors (1099’s) from employees (W-2’s). Sometimes the facts make it obvious which classification applies.
  3. He can retain an employment law attorney to provide a legal opinion on whether his workforce consists of 1099’s or W-2’s if the facts are unclear and he wants added assurance of his legal obligations.

The above scenario is a composite of several actual situations faced by prospective and actual clients. In those situations, the prospective client chose the first option and the clients chose the second option. I recommended that one of the clients move directly to the third option and they retained an attorney. If your company is struggling with this issue, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor may be able to help.

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