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Who is an Independent Contractor?


        Employee or Independent Contractor?

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As a general rule, the more an employer controls the work of an individual, the more likely that individual is the employer’s employee. For this reason, it is generally accepted that employers can control or direct the result of the work done by independent contractors, but not the means and methods by which contractors choose to accomplish each assignment.

In addition, employers do not supervise a contractor’s work as they would monitor an employee’s performance, nor do they usually provide the supplies or tools the contractor needs to complete its tasks.

In contrast, employers can exercise a higher degree of control on their employees. This includes not only the jobs employees perform but also the processes and tools they must use to complete them.

There are also compensation differences between the employer-contractor relationship and the employer-employee relationship. A contractor’s claim for compensation is tied to its ability to meet the expectations of its contract. It is possible for an employer to refuse compensation to a contractor that fails to deliver the services it was hired to provide. On the other hand, an employer’s ability to refuse paying employee wages is limited and often illegal.

Nevertheless, there are some exceptions to the general rule regarding degree of control.

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Employee or Independent Contractor?



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Hiring an independent contractor offers employers many advantages. Unlike for traditional employees, employers do not pay taxes on independent contractors’ wages, and are not expected to provide benefits. Employers often save 30 to 40 percent on labor costs by using independent contractors. In addition, as independent contractors are generally hired for a specific period or project, employers have no obligation to rehire them after each contract period or project is complete.

However, employers should be cautious when classifying individuals as independent contractors. Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can have serious financial and legal consequences.

At the end of each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires employers to issue Form 1099 to every contractor to whom they paid $600 or more during the tax year and file Form 1096 with the IRS to report payments the employer made to contractors.

The IRS, the U.S. Department of Labor and various state agencies constantly monitor compliance with employee and independent contractor classification using a variety of criteria. Using the Employment Tax Examination Program (ETE), special IRS teams investigate misclassification of workers through audits. Employers that file Form 1099 are subject to audits, as are employers in industries that tend to abuse the privilege of hiring independent contractors.

If a company is found in violation, the IRS will impose the following penalties in addition to attorney and tax advisor’s fees:

     • Retroactive payment of back taxes for the individual

     • Interest calculated from the time when payments were due

     • Penalty fines of up to 100 percent of the amount due

     • Retroactive contributions to the individual’s Medicare and Social Security,
     federal and state unemployment taxes, and workers’ compensation benefits

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Recommendations for Improving Female Safety Workplace Culture


          Providing Safety for Women in Construction

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Include sexual harassment prevention training in safety and health programs.

Ensure all communication materials are gender-neutral and include women. Visual materials should include examples of female construction workers to promote an integrated construction workplace.

To address the problem of workplace isolation, employers, apprenticeship programs and unions (where responsible) should assign female workers to work in groups of two or more when possible, especially those who are relatively new to the construction trade.

Make sure supervisors are trained in ensuring the safety of female workers and can answer any questions workers may have.


Sanitary facilities

Gender-separate sanitary facilities should be provided on worksites.

Where changing rooms are provided on construction sites, they should also be gender-separated and provided with inside and outside locking mechanisms.

Employees should be allowed to use sanitary or hand-washing facilities as needed.

Toilet facilities should be kept clean and in good repair with clean toilet paper within reach.

Hand-washing facilities should exist within close proximity to toilet facilities.


Health and safety training

Employers and unions should make skills training courses available and encourage all workers to take advantage of them.

Journeymen should establish mentoring relationships with new workers to provide informal skills and safety training.

Supervisors need to emphasize safety as well as productivity on the job site.

Employers should emphasize that safety training is as important as skills training.


PPE and PPC

The design of PPE and PPC for women should be based on female measurements.

Union apprenticeship programs should provide female construction workers with resources on where to find equipment and clothing that fits.

Employers should make sure that all workers of all sizes have well-fitting PPE and PPC for safe and efficient performance.

PPE intended for use by women workers should be based upon female anthropometric (body measurement) data.


Ergonomics

It should be accepted that some workers need to use different lifting and material handling techniques.

Employers, unions, apprenticeship programs and other training entities should review skills training programs to see whether alternative methods are included for getting work accomplished by workers of different sizes or strengths. All programs should emphasize the importance of safe lifting.

Workers need to hear from employers and unions that it’s acceptable to ask for help and to explore alternative ways to lift and carry.

All workers should be trained in the proper ways to lift and bend.


Reproductive hazards

Employers should post Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each chemical present on the worksite.

Workers should read all SDSs and share the information with their physicians if they are pregnant or planning to start a family.

All workers should educate themselves about the potential reproductive risks from exposure to certain chemicals.

Employers should make reasonable accommodations for workers in later stages of pregnancy, rather than forcing them out of the workplace.

During the later stages of pregnancy, women should consult with their physicians about strenuous physical activities on the job.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that, in a one-year period, 41 percent of female construction workers suffered from gender harassment.As increasing numbers of women enter the construction trades, concerns about their health and safety are growing. In addition to the primary safety and health hazards faced by all construction workers, there are safety and health issues specific to female construction workers. The small percentage of females within the construction trades and the serious health and safety problems unique to female construction workers have a circular effect. Safety and health problems in construction create barriers to women entering and remaining in this field. In turn, the small numbers of women workers on construction worksites foster an environment in which these safety and health problems arise or continue. Source: OSHA


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Affirmative Action for Federal Contractors




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All federal contractors and subcontractors are required to implement AAPs. However, federal contractors and subcontractors with contracts of under $10,000 or with multiple contracts which, when combined, total less than $10,000, are exempt from the AAP requirements outlined by the OFCCP.

Many states also regulate which employers must have AAPs. Contact your local Office of Contract Compliance for more details.

Affirmative Action Requirements: The Department of Labor (DOL) has set specific reporting, notice and recordkeeping requirements to ensure that employers comply with all affirmative action regulations.

These requirements apply to all employers covered by federal anti-discrimination laws, regardless of whether a charge has been filed against them.


Reporting Requirements: Employers must report their AAP efforts using the following forms. Employers with more than one location must file a report for their headquarters, a report for each location with 50 or more employees and a separate report for each location having fewer than 50 employees. Alternatively, employers with more than one location can file a consolidated report that covers each location with fewer than 50 employees.

The term “affirmative action” refers to public and private initiatives to improve development opportunities for women, minorities and other protected classes. In the employment sector, these efforts seek to increase employment opportunities for women, minorities, veterans, the disabled and any other protected classes of employees. The goal is for all individuals to have an equal opportunity for employment, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or veteran status.

Equal employment opportunities for federal contractors are required by the following three laws: Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA). These laws are administered and enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Many companies are required by law to have an Affirmative Action Plan in place.
As required by the OFCCP, many companies must have an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) in place. This plan should contain an analysis of all protected classes of employees at the organization and compare protected class statistics to an employer’s entire population to discover any barriers to equal employment opportunity. The plan should also include actions to remedy these barriers. For more information on affirmative action and your obligations as an employer, visit www.dol.gov/dol/topic/hiring/affirmativeact.htm.



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Reasons to Hire an IT Contractor


          Hiring Independent IT Contractors

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Unique skill set – Many IT tasks can be confusing or complicated to the average person. By hiring an IT contractor, businesses can complete a project in much less time than if they were to have an employee with minimal IT experience do the job.

Cost savings – Business owners can save a lot of money over the long term by hiring a contractor to do work for a short period of time, therefore eliminating the need to hire an expensive full-time employee for the job.

Benefits – Business owners don’t have to worry about giving contractors benefits such as paid time off or insurance—they are responsible for their own. Businesses also save on payroll taxes.

Politics – A contractor is there just to focus on the job at hand. They are not likely to get involved in office politics that might slow other employees from performing the same job.

Minimal training – Generally, IT contractors are well-versed in the best IT practices and can perform work with little to no training, which costs businesses a lot of time and money.

Quality assurance – Contractors can provide useful second opinions on work a company has done itself.

When it comes to IT work, many small and mid-size companies just don’t have the budget to employ a full-time IT staff. Often, these tasks are performed by the owner or current employees with limited knowledge of how the company’s computer system or related tasks work. This creates potential cyber security problems that can lead to a data breach, theft or destruction of intellectual property and identity theft.

Luckily, businesses can hire independent contractors to assist them with all IT-related tasks. Businesses can reach out to contractors for short-term help, such as setting up a network or firewall or designing a company website, or opt for long-term contracts, such as providing 24/7 network troubleshooting support or developing cyber security policies.


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Important Snowplow Contract Elements to Consider



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  • • Acquire your subcontractors’ Certificates of Insurance to make sure their liability limits are comparable to yours
  • • Check driving records for new hires and only use employees with prior experience
  • • Contractor should advise precise location and time of operation
  • • Contract should clarify property owner’s obligations
  • • Contractor should not be responsible for determining when work should be done
  • • Refrain from taking responsibility for property owner’s carelessness
  • • Steer clear of around-the-clock ice and property surveillance
Be Sure to Specify Your Obligations, Such As:

  • • Will only plow property when at least two inches of snow has fallen
  • • If requested by property owner, contractor will discharge salt or sand for separate fee
  • • Property owner will instruct where to pile snow
  • • Property owner will outline which surfaces are to be plowed
Proper snowplow contracts can help prevent your liability from piling up. It is important to have a clear contract for the work you will perform. Contractors should evaluate contracts to ensure all responsibilities and expectations are made clear to avoid any confusion.

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