Independent Contractors vs. Employees

You may be in the process of starting your business or a seasoned business owner, but regardless of where you are in the ownership process, you want to run a business that abides by all laws. The problem is that the state and federal laws are complex and confusing.

We are here to simplify the process for you and explain one of the most important distinctions in the dog walking industry: employee classification. As an employer, you can employ either 1099 contractors or employees. Most people go off the common misconception that dog walkers are 1099 contractors as they typically work autonomously. Unfortunately, this does make walkers 1099s. There is a strict and thorough test to determine worker classification. Please note that the federal test CAN differ from state laws. In most cases, state laws tend to be even stricter on classifications. Please research your state laws if applicable.

Below is a quick checklist to help you determine your workers’ correct classification. Reach out to the PIC for specific questions and assistance-we are here to help you!:

Behavioral Control A worker is an employee when the business has the right to direct and control the work performed by the worker, even if that right is not exercised. Behavioral control categories are:

  • Type of instructions given, such as when and where to work, what tools to use or where to purchase supplies and services. Receiving the types of instructions in these examples may indicate a worker is an employee.

  • Degree of instruction, more detailed instructions may indicate that the worker is an employee.  Less detailed instructions reflects less control, indicating that the worker is more likely an independent contractor.

  • Evaluation systems to measure the details of how the work is done points to an employee. Evaluation systems measuring just the end result point to either an independent contractor or an employee.

  • Training a worker on how to do the job -- or periodic or on-going training about procedures and methods -- is strong evidence that the worker is an employee. Independent contractors ordinarily use their own methods.

Financial ControlDoes the business have a right to direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker's job? Consider:

  • Significant investment in the equipment the worker uses in working for someone else.

  • Unreimbursed expenses, independent contractors are more likely to incur unreimbursed expenses than employees.

  • Opportunity for profit or loss is often an indicator of an independent contractor.

  • Services available to the market. Independent contractors are generally free to seek out business opportunities.

  • Method of payment. An employee is generally guaranteed a regular wage amount for an hourly, weekly, or other period of time even when supplemented by a commission. However, independent contractors are most often paid for the job by a flat fee.

Relationship: The type of relationship depends upon how the worker and business perceive their interaction with one another. This includes:

  • Written contracts which describe the relationship the parties intend to create. Although a contract stating the worker is an employee or an independent contractor is not sufficient to determine the worker’s status.

  • Benefits. Businesses providing employee-type benefits, such as insurance, a pension plan, vacation pay or sick pay have employees. Businesses generally do not grant these benefits to independent contractors.

  • The permanency of the relationship is important. An expectation that the relationship will continue indefinitely, rather than for a specific project or period, is generally seen as evidence that the intent was to create an employer-employee relationship.

  • Services provided which are a key activity of the business. The extent to which services performed by the worker are seen as a key aspect of the regular business of the company.