Small Business Checklists - Employee or Contractor

Are they really a Contractor? Or your Employee?

Unfortunately, instead of having a simple yes-or-no answer, the answer is usually "it depends."

What it depends on is the specific reason you're asking the question:

  • If you're asking whether or not you have to pay for Industrial Insurance (Workers' Compensation) on a particular person, the short answer begins on this page.

For Industrial Insurance, ask yourself three basic questions:

  • Do they bring more than personal labor to the job?
    • Are they bringing any equipment -- other than "ordinary hand tools" -- to the job?
  • Are they working without your supervision?
    • You ARE NOT supervising if you are just setting the schedule and then inspecting the work.
    • You ARE supervising if you are telling them:
      • How to do the work.
      • Assigning tasks.
      • Training.
      • Setting regular work hours.
      • Keeping time sheets.
  • Do they have an established, independent business?
    • Do they have an established place of business (other than a truck and a cell phone)?
    • Do they advertise as a business? And have other customers?
    • Do they file taxes with the IRS as a business? And pay Self Employment tax for Social Security?
    • Do they maintain the appropriate books on expenses, income, equipment depreciation, etc?
    • Are they registered as a contractor with L&I (Check on the L&I Web site)
  • As always, if you're not sure, please call L&I for help.

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