5 Steps to Hiring Independent Contractors

Independent Contractors

Engaging an independent contractor can be a smart move for businesses looking to bring in specialized skills or complete short-term projects. Independent contractors offer valuable flexibility and expertise to your organization. However, before you jump into an independent contractor relationship, there are some things you should consider to ensure a successful and legally compliant arrangement.  

Here are five essential steps you should take before hiring an independent contractor:  

Define the scope of work 

Before entering into an independent contractor agreement, it’s essential to outline the scope of work in detail. What exact tasks or projects will the contractor be responsible for? What are the expected deliverables and deadlines? Defining and outlining the scope of work helps prevent potential misunderstandings and confirms that both parties are on the same page regarding expectations. Be as specific as possible in your contract, which will help to avoid any disputes later. 

Evaluate the contractor’s track record in similar projects  

It is essential to assess a potential contractor’s track record in similar projects or roles. Request references from past clients or employers who can speak to the contractor’s performance and reliability, and the quality of their work—as you would for a standard employee in the vetting process. Look for contractors who have successfully completed projects comparable in size, complexity, and scope to the one you’re hiring for. This assessment will help you gauge whether the contractor has the practical experience and skills necessary to deliver the results you require.   

Draft a comprehensive contract 

A well-constructed contract is crucial. It should cover various aspects of the working relationship, including: 

  • Scope of work: Clearly define the tasks, responsibilities, and objectives. 
  • Payment terms: Outline how and when the contractor will be paid, including rates or project-based fees. 
  • Timeline: Specify the project’s start and end dates, milestones, and deadlines.
  • Confidentiality and non-compete clauses: Protect your company’s sensitive information and interests. 
  • Ownership of work: Determine who will own the intellectual property created during the contract. 
  • Termination clauses: Describe the conditions under which the contract can be terminated. 
  • Dispute resolution: Establish a process for resolving conflicts. 

Once you have drafted your contract, consult with a legal professional to ensure your contract complies with local laws and regulations.  

Verify that your contractor qualifies as an independent contractor  

It’s crucial to verify that the individual you’re engaging as an independent contractor truly qualifies as one. Generally, independent contractors should have control over how they perform their work, use their own tools and equipment, have multiple clients, and be responsible for their own taxes. Conduct due diligence by reviewing the contractor’s resume, portfolio, and references. You may also want to request their Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) and ensure they have the necessary licenses or certifications for their field.  

Consider insurance and liability 

Depending on the nature of the work, you might need to consider insurance and liability issues. Some independent contractors may carry their own liability insurance, which can protect both parties in case of accidents or errors. It’s also essential to clarify in your contract who will be responsible for any potential liabilities or legal issues that may arise during the course of the project. Consulting with an insurance professional or attorney can help you navigate these complexities and ensure that you’re adequately protected. 

Bringing on independent contractors can be a win-win situation for both businesses and skilled professionals. However, to ensure a smooth and legally compliant working relationship, it’s essential to understand the differences between employees and contractors, define the scope of work, draft a comprehensive contract, verify the contractor’s status, and consider insurance and liability issues. Taking these steps will help you minimize risks, avoid legal pitfalls, and set the stage for a successful partnership with your independent contractors. Always consult with legal and financial professionals to ensure you are in full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations in your area. 


We’re here to help guide you through the oftentimes tricky process of making an independent contract hire. GoSmallBiz can assist you with every part of that process—from sourcing an independent contract form, to speaking with a legal expert to get your contract checked for legal compliance.  



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