An independent contractor is a person or business who performs services for another person pursuant to an agreement and who is not subject to the other’s control, or right to control, the manner and means of performing the services. The exact nature of the independent contractor’s relationship with the hiring party is important since an independent contractor pays his/her own Social Security, income taxes without payroll deduction, has no retirement or health plan rights, and often is not entitled to worker’s compensation coverage.
There are a number of factors which to consider in making the decision whether people are employees or independent contractors. One of the most important considerations is the degree of control exercised by the company over the work of the workers. An employer has the right to control an employee. It is important to determine whether the company had the right to direct and control the workers not only as to the results desired, but also as to the details, manner and means by which the results were accomplished. If the company had the right to supervise and control such details of the work performed, and the manner and means by which the results were to be accomplished, an employer-employee relationship would be indicated. On the other hand, the absence of supervision and control by the company would support a finding that the workers were independent contractors and not employees.
Another factor to be considered is the connection and regularity of business between the independent contractor and the hiring party. Important factors to be considered are separate advertising, procurement of licensing, maintenance of a place of business, and supplying of tools and equipment by the independent contractor. If the service rendered is to be completed by a certain time, as opposed to an indefinite time period, a finding of an independent contractor status is more likely.
Restrictions to prevent competition by a present or former employee are held valid when they are reasonable and necessary to protect the interests of the employer. For example, a provision in an employment contract which prohibited an employee for two years from calling on any customer of the employer called on by the employee during the last six months of employment would generally be valid. Courts will closely examine covenants not to compete signed by individuals in order to make sure that they are not unreasonable as to time or geographical area.