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Can you force independent contractors to attend training?

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Your business depends on the work of contractors, but you have to train said contractors to service your clients the way you want them served. Can you force contractors to attend training? That’s the question before many companies today as the size of the contract and on-demand workforce continues to explode.

The degree to which an employer “controls” aspects of the job and how it is performed is one of the main factors the IRS uses to gauge the classification of an employee or independent contractor. Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories:

1. Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
2. Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
3. Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

trainingSince independent contractors bring their existing talents and skills to a job, providing additional training to a contractor might fall into the area of behavioral control and endanger their contractor classification. So, what do you do if you can’t require independent contractors to attend training but need them properly trained to service your business?

For one, you can provide incentives for your contractors to take the training you offer. These incentives can be monetary or otherwise. An example of a monetary incentive would be for example you pay a higher hourly rate to contractors who have completed X training program. Another monetary reward could be to offer select (think premium) project opportunities to contractors who have completed X training program.

Non-monetary rewards for completing training are even easier to devise. For example, you can maintain a list or database of contractors who you will turn to for desirable contract work that is only open to contractors who have completed X training program(s) that you offer. Mention this requirement to contractors currently operating within your business and watch them make time to learn skills more valuable to you.

There are many other ways to design training requirements for your independent contractors that will have them voluntarily coming to you to attend without violating the IRS’s independent contractor requirements- if you would like help designing your training courses to meet this business need, please reach out to us here at the office (305) 273-4066. One of our Human Resources generalists or consultants will be happy to help you out.

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