July 17, 2019 0

What are Your Legal Responsibilities When it Comes to Hiring an Independent Contractor?

Posted by:Sophia Hickman onJuly 17, 2019

Independent contractors are an extremely useful resource for small and medium sized businesses. They are already skilled in the services you need and are perfect for when you don’t need work performed regularly. They also remove the paperwork and legal responsibility that comes with hiring an employee.. or do they? There are many misconceptions that if a contractor is injured at your place of business, the responsibility solely lies with the employer or the contractor themselves. Unfortunately, for business owners and directors this might not be the case.

It is not always clear who is legally responsible when a contractor is injured. In order to reduce your legal risk, you need to be aware of what could cause you to be liable. Contractors not only need to have the correct qualifications and insurances, but you will also need to inform them of any possible hazards in the area that they will be working. Failure to do any of these things could result in you becoming legally liable for the contractors injuries or the injuries caused from the work completed by the contractor.

 

Employee Vs Contractor

Firstly, you need to know the difference between an employee and a contractor. Although it seems simple, if you get it wrong it could majorly affect the rights and responsibilities of your business. Contractors are not covered by most employment related laws, whereas employees are. This includes minimum wage payments, holiday leave and entitlements and a written employment agreement. A court will always look at the real nature of the working relationship not just the labels that the parties are calling it. Even if you believe you have hired a contractor you might be treating them as an employee so make sure you know the difference.  

 

Qualifications

Contractors must have a valid contractors license before completing any work at your place of business. If the contractor is incompetent, the business owner could be liable because they negligently hired them. You will need proof of this license as a contractors claim that they have a valid license does not relieve you from responsibility if they actually do not. If you have made sure that their license is correct, the contractor or their employer may be legally responsible for the injuries.

 

Insurances

Unfortunately, even if your contractor does have a valid license, you may still be legally responsible if the contractor does not carry the correct insurance. The correct insurance should cover bodily injuries and workers compensation for lost wages. To ensure that you are fully covered, your contractors insurance should also cover property damage and bodily injury the contractor or their workers may cause you.

 

Gross Negligence

If you fail to inform your contractors about the hazards in the area of where they will be working,  you could be liable if it is found that the misinformation or gross negligence has caused or contributed to the injury of the contractor. For example, you hire a contractor to repair your roof, but fail to inform him that the roof has a structural weakness. If the roof collapses while the contractor is working on it and becomes injured, a court could find that the failure to inform the contractor of this information was grossly negligent and therefore the business owner would be legally liable for the workers injuries. In the worst case scenario the contractor could even be awarded punitive damages, depending on the specific circumstances. 

In order to avoid this legal risk you need to have a system in place that informs and documents every contractor, depending on where and what they are working on. First of all, establish a contractor working relationship and make sure the nature of the relationship remains the same throughout the contract of work. Secondly, ask to see their license and insurances to ensure they are valid and correct. You must document everything so you can legally protect yourself if something did happen, proof is essential so it isn’t just your word against the contractors. Lastly, as soon as the contractor signs in, you should inform the contractor of any hazards in the area they will be working. 

 

What We Can Do For You

WhosOnLocation can provide you with one easy-to-use application that will help you manage and maintain contractor profiles. At sign-in, you can ask them to sign a legal document acknowledging the contractor relationship. You will also be able to store their qualifications and insurances, which will alert your administrator if they are not correct or out of date. Contractors should be asked where they are working and for how long, therefore they can be notified of the hazards, acknowledged as read and understood before proceeding into these areas. No need to worry about missing paperwork, as everything will be stored and kept up to date within the application. WhosOnlocation will not only prevent you from becoming legally liable but also make sure your contractors are as safe, secure and aware of any hazards. 

About WhosOnLocation

WhosOnLocation provides people presence management software that monitors the safe and secure movement of people through buildings and work sites. Our powerful, cloud-based solution unites visitor, contractor, employee, and emergency management, enabling organizations to secure their facilities and ensure the safety of every person on-site.

Armed with a rich, unified source of people presence information, our users are empowered to make more strategic, data-driven decisions that mitigate risk, reduce overhead costs, and streamline operations.

WhosOnLocation serves organizations in 35 countries around the world, protecting billions of dollars in assets and IP, and managing over 20 million secure movements through over 2500 facilities each year.

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