HR Specialist

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Determining Independent Contractor Status

In Human Resources on May 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

 Appropriately classifying individuals as employees or independent contractors can be more complex than it appears. One complexity involved in determining independent contractor status, notes Attorney James Coleman, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Constangy, Brooks and Smith, is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of federal civil rights law, and some state-level regulations each define such contractors in slightly different ways.

Focus, Coleman says, on the big areas of commonality among the laws that define independent contractor status, such as these:

  1. Independent contractors commonly work for several businesses, not just one;
  2. They should provide their own tools and resources;
  3. There should be a low level of control exercised by the hiring entity over the contractor; for example, the focus should be on the contractor’s completed output, and not on how he or she does the work, and particular hours of work should not be dictated; and
  4. The method of compensation will typically be on a project basis–for a certain amount of product or service–rather than hourly.

An IRS study of misclassification in 1984 found that about 15 percent of employers nationally had wrongly categorized a total of 3.4 million employees. A more recent study, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found in 2005 that 10.3 million workers, or about 7.4 percent of the workforce, were classified as independent contractors.

Arguably the strictest definition of independent contractors is that of Massachusetts, created by a 2009 legal opinion: no contractor in that state may perform any work for a company that is similar to work performed by employees. Only such services as plumbing, landscaping, legal advice, and the like qualify as contract work. Coleman believes such a method of determining independent contractor status may be government overreaction that will make doing business much tougher for state companies. He strongly believes that both state and federal lawmakers should focus on genuine abuses of classification rather than striving to generate revenue for tax coffers.

“By and large, most workers are properly classified as employees by most employers,” Coleman says. But he agrees that some employers do deliberately declare people independent contractors, because it’s very tempting to save significant amounts of money compared to maintaining employees’ benefits packages and paying payroll, unemployment insurance, and other taxes. It’s often estimated, for example, that those expenses add at least 30 percent to an employee’s wages or salary. So, Coleman advises, “If it walks like an employee, talks like an employee, and smells like an employee,” classify the person as an employee.

The following resources can help you determine whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee and provide further details of what constitutes and employer-independent contractor relationship:


55 Jobs with High Growth in 2010

In Human Resources on May 5, 2010 at 9:34 am

Although 2009 saw some of the most desolate unemployment numbers in history, there is reason to believe that things are starting to look up.

Both the unemployment rate and the number of jobless persons decreased in November to 10 percent and 15.4 million, respectively, according to the most recent date from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was down from October, when the unemployment was at an all-time-high of 10.2 percent and there were 15.7 million unemployed persons.

In addition, although employment fell in several industries, several groups saw little change or added jobs in November. Employment in professional and business services rose by 86,000, with temporary help services adding 52,000 jobs, the majority of the increase. Since July, temporary help services employment has risen by 117,000. Health-care employment rose to 21,000 in November, with gains in home health-care services (7,000) and hospitals (7,000). The health-care industry has added 613,000 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. While there was little change in wholesale and retail trade, department stores added 8,000 jobs over the month. Finally, the number of jobs in transportation and warehousing, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality showed little change over the month.

As these numbers continue to trend upward, there should be hope for the millions of people still looking for a job in 2010. The labor force is projected to increase by 12.6 million people during the 2008-18 period, according to the BLS. Total employment is expected to increase by 10.1 percent, adding about 15.3 million workers over the decade — including in 2010.

It should be noted, however, that the jobs that will be added won’t be evenly distributed across industries and occupational groups. It goes without saying that changes in consumer demand, technology and the like will continue to affect the economic structure.

If you’re looking for a job this year, here are 55 (of many) jobs to look for in 2010, defined as jobs that saw growth in the second half of 2009 in every industry.*

Industry: Management, business and financial operations
Jobs that saw growth in management:

1. Marketing and sales managers

2. Purchasing managers

3. Property, real estate and community association managers

Jobs that saw growth in business and financial operations:
4. Wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products

5. Cost estimators

6. Meeting and convention planners

Industry: Professional and related occupations
Jobs that saw growth in computer and mathematics:

7. Computer programmers

8. Network systems and data communications analysts

9. Statisticians

Jobs that saw growth in architecture and engineering:
10. Electrical and electronics engineers

11. Materials engineers

12. Engineering technicians, except drafters

Jobs that saw growth in life, physical and social sciences:
13. Market and survey researchers

14. Psychologists

15. Urban and regional planners

Jobs that saw growth in community and social services:
16. Counselors

17. Social workers

18. Religious activities and education director

Jobs that saw growth in legal:
19. Judges, magistrates and other judicial workers

20. Paralegals and legal assistants

Jobs that saw growth in education, training and library:
21. Archivists, curators and museum technicians

22. Librarians

Jobs that saw growth in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media:
23. Designers

24. Athletes, coaches, umpires and related workers

25. Editors

Jobs that saw growth in health-care practitioner and technical:
26. Chiropractors

27. Occupational therapists

28. Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

Industry: Service occupations
Jobs that saw growth in health-care support:

29. Nursing, psychiatric and home-health aides

30. Massage therapists

31. Dental assistants

Jobs that saw growth in protective services:
32. Firefighters

33. Bailiffs, correctional officers and jailers

Jobs that saw growth in food preparation and serving related occupations:
34. Chefs and head cooks

35. Bartenders

Jobs that saw growth in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance:
36. Pest control workers

37. Grounds maintenance workers

Jobs that saw growth in personal care and service:
38. Tour and travel guides

39. Child-care workers

40. Recreation and fitness workers

Industry: Sales and office occupations
Jobs that saw growth in sales and related:

41. Cashiers

42. Advertising sales agents

43. Travel agents

Jobs that saw growth in office and administrative support:
44. Customer service representatives

45. Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping

46. Office machine operators, except computer

Industry: Natural resources, construction and maintenance
Jobs that saw growth in construction and extraction:

47. Carpenters

48. Cement masons, concrete finishers and terrazzo workers

49. Electricians

Industry: Installation, maintenance and repair
Jobs that saw growth:

50. Automotive body and related repairers

51. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation

Industry: Production, transportation and material moving
Jobs that saw growth in production:

52. Bakers

53. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers and weighers

Jobs that saw growth in transportation and material moving:
54.  Refuse and recyclable material collectors

55.  Industrial truck and tractor operators