horizons logo
Start hiring
employee vs contractor test

Assess your employee vs contractor misclassification

Contractor misclassification occurs when an employer mistakenly categorizes a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee.

Join 3,000+ companies already hiring with Horizons

Assess the misclassification risk
of your worker

Answer 10 questions to avoid wrongly classifying an employee as a contractor

Where does the worker live?
Do the workers have the autonomy to determine their own work schedules and methods, without being bound by attendance regulations?

Horizons Tip

For maintaining a contractor's independent status, it's crucial that they keep the freedom to decide when, where, and how they execute their tasks, provided they achieve the deliverables in the contract. Overly detailed oversight and exerting control can risk the perception of misclassification. Prioritizing a contractor's independence in their work approach is key to ensuring they remain classified as such.

Does the contractor have elements, like a company email, that blend them into your organizational structure?

Horizons Tip

Contractors ideally should maintain a distinct identity from company employees. Blurring the lines by integrating them too closely, such as giving them a company email, may increase misclassification risks. It's vital to ensure contractors retain autonomy in their work while fulfilling contract terms, avoiding over-management or excessively close monitoring that could jeopardize their independent status.

Can the contractor engage with other businesses or clients while working with the company?

Horizons Tip

Restricting a contractor's ability to work with other clients might be indicative of an employee-like relationship with them. The more freedom and flexibility a contractor possesses in deciding their work arrangements and client engagements, the less they resemble traditional employees. A 'yes' implies they're free to take on other projects or clients, while a 'no' suggests they're exclusively committed to your organization during the tenure of their service.

Who is responsible for supplying the necessary tools and bearing the expenses for delivering the services?

Horizons Tip

When a contractor invests in and utilizes their own tools and covers their operational costs, it further establishes their independence. On the contrary, if the company provides all necessary equipment and bears regular costs, it might lean towards an employer-employee dynamic, potentially raising misclassification concerns.

Does the company provide training to the contractor?

Horizons Tip

Offering training to contractors can blur the lines between them and regular employees. Independent contractors typically come on board with their expertise, and training them might hint at a deeper integration with the company. It's essential to maintain clarity to ensure their independent status isn't compromised.

Is the contractor receiving the same perks and benefits as your regular employees?

Horizons Tip

Extending employee-like benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, stock options, and allowances to contractors can blur the boundary between them and salaried employees. While benefits can be an enticing offer, it's essential to differentiate between contractors and employees to avoid potential misclassification. Ensure that the benefits provided align with the contractor's independent status.

For how long do you anticipate the contractor's services?

Horizons Tip

Engaging a contractor indefinitely might resemble a permanent employment arrangement. Generally, contractors are hired for specific tasks or projects with clear timelines. Ensuring there's a defined duration or project scope can help in differentiating between employees and contractors and reduce the risk of misclassification.

How do you decide the contractor's payment?

Horizons Tip

The manner in which a contractor is compensated can be indicative of their working relationship with the organization. Fixed monthly fees can resemble salaried employees, while variable remuneration or milestonebased payments often underline the contractor's independence and project-centric approach. It's vital to align the payment method with the nature of the contractor's engagement to avoid potential classification issues.

How many hours a week is the contractor expected to commit to your company's tasks?

Horizons Tip

Contractors dedicating extensive hours regularly, especially resembling full-time commitments, might be viewed more as employees than independent entities. It's crucial to evaluate the hours dedicated to ensure that the contractor's status aligns with their actual working pattern and doesn't inadvertently lean towards a traditional employee role.

Hire and pay talents
with Horizons in
180+ countries

As businesses adapt to changing market fluctuations, flexibility and agility are the way forward! From new-age startups to enterprises, global Human Resource (HR) managers often turn to contractors or freelancers to meet immediate needs. These workers bring specialised skills, allowing companies to tap into expertise without any long-term commitment of hiring full-time employees. But, there comes a time when the question arises: When, how, and why should I convert a contractor or freelancer into a full-time team member?

This topic delves into a critical phase of worker classification that many businesses encounter as they grow and evolve. It addresses a pivotal decision-making process that determines whether a temporary agreement should be reconsidered as a permanent one. 

When is the right time to make this shift?

Timing is crucial. Understanding the triggers that indicate a contractor’s potential for full-time employement is essential. Factors such as project longevity, consistent workload and alignment with the company’s culture plays a role. 

How do I navigate this transition effectively?

Converting from contractor to employee involves legal, financial and logistical regulations. In this article, we explore the process for a seamless conversion – from crafting an employment contract to managing complex transitions and reconsidering benefits.

Why should I consider making this transition in the first place?

Beyond tactical reasons, it’s important to grasp broader implications. Converting independent workers can lead to increased commitment, improved company culture and brand recognition, and a more stable workforce. It also enhances your company’s ability to retain and nurture valuable expertise in the long run.

Whether you’re an HR professional seeking guidance on this transition or an entrepreneur navigating the complexities of worker classification, understanding the when, how, and why of converting contractors or freelancers to full-time employees is pivotal to ensuring your company’s sustained growth and success.

In the following sections, we will deep dive into these facets, providing you with insights and strategies to make informed decisions that align with your company’s unique workforce needs and goals.

How do you define a Full-Time Employee?

Full-time employees require direction and supervision from their employers around performing their tasks. They work on a full-time agreement and are dependent on their employer for direction and performance management. The employer is responsible for supervising and monitoring their work and performance, as well as reporting, paying payroll and managing taxes on their behalf.

To determine whether your workers should be correctly classified as full-time employees or independent contractors, the following factors should be considered:

Relationship: Are your workers involved in building relationships with customers or clients. Do they work closely with other teams within the company?

Financial control: Do you pay payroll taxes? Do you control benefits, such as sick days and vacations? Do you determine salary pay rates?

Behavioural control: Do you plan out the schedules and methods for performing tasks on your employee’s behalf?

If you answer ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, your worker is likely classified as a full-time employee.

Who is an Independent Contractor?

Independent contractors operate as a separate business entity. They provide services in exchange for payment. Unlike a full-time employee, you’ll agree on work, schedule details and payment before entering into an employment contract with them.

Independent contractors invoice the company for their services. They work on a project-by-project basis or a short-term contract. They also manage their own equipment and supplies, and are responsible for paying their own taxes, including local, state, federal, social security. They are usually not entitled to mandatory health insurance or any benefits cover.

Like a contingency worker, a contractor is a temporary resource who is independent of your company or business. Many startups opt for freelancers due to their flexibility and lower fees, and create agreements similar to the case of contractors. 

But, there are always legal risks associated with hiring independent contractors or freelancers. They includes but is not limited to mismanagement, lack of control over the work performed, legal liability, penalties, and more.

Independent contractors Full-time employees
Paid per project Paid a regular wage
Pay their own taxes Their taxes are withheld by the employer
Use their own equipment Use company-owned equipment
Work offsite Report to a company office or facility, and work remotely, on-site or in a hybrid work set-up
Can usually work when and where they want Have a working schedule that is dictated by their employer

Why should I transition from Contractors to full-time employees?

For teams that work with global talent, there has been a rise in choosing to work with contractors or freelancers, instead of full-time employees. This is to avoid the headache of dealing with the legalities of international hiring.
However, companies that use this model can open themselves up to risks of contractor misclassification if a contractor’s duties more closely resemble that of a full-time employee.

Let’s discuss the benefits of converting contractors into full-time employees:

Benefit 1: Enhanced Commitment
EOR arrangements often result in greater employee commitment as they feel more integrated into the company’s long-term vision

Benefit 2: Consistent and Stable Workforce
EOR helps maintain a stable workforce, reducing the need for continuous recruitment and onboarding

Benefit 3: Deeper Cultural Alignment
Permanent employees are more likely to align with the company’s culture, fostering a cohesive work environment

Benefit 4: Improved Loyalty
Employees tend to stay longer with a company, reducing turnover costs and maintaining institutional knowledge

Benefit 5: Retention of top talent
EOR offers access to benefits such as healthcare, retirement plans, and paid time off, which can attract and retain top talent

Benefit 6: 100% Legal Compliance
Converting to EOR ensures compliance with labour laws, reducing legal risks associated with contractor misclassification

Benefit 7: Increased productivity
Permanent employees are more likely to receive comprehensive training, leading to increased skills and productivity

Benefit 8: Career Progression
EOR arrangements provide a clear path for career growth and development, motivating employees to excel

Benefit 9: Better Team Integration
EOR employees often integrate better into teams, leading to improved collaboration and productivity

Benefit 10: Long-Term Alignment
Transitioning to EOR allows for better long-term workforce planning, aligning staffing with business goals

When should I convert a contractor to an employee?

When converting an independent contractor or freelancer into a full-time employee, there are several important considerations for
employers.

It’s recommended to consult with a qualified global employment law attorney or international hiring expert to ensure that the conversion process is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. With Horizons, you could convert contractors working anywhere globally to full-time employees. Click on the button below to get started today.When converting an independent contractor or freelancer into a full-time employee, there are several important considerations for employers. It’s recommended to consult with a qualified global employment law attorney or international hiring expert to ensure that the conversion process is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. With Horizons, you could convert contractors working anywhere globally to full-time employees. Click on the button below to get started today.

Here are four key reasons to keep in mind when converting an independent contractor or freelancer into a full-time employee:

Reason 1: Legal Compliance and Risk Mitigation

Converting a contractor to an employee mitigates risks associated with misclassification and labour law compliance, ensuring a stable and compliant workforce

Reason 2: Critical Role and Long-Term Need

When a contractor plays a pivotal role that is essential for your business’s success over the long haul, converting them to a full-time employee secures your core capabilities

Reason 3: Cost Effective Solution

A contractor who consistently clocks a certain number of hours not only signals efficiency but also translates into cost-effectiveness when they become an employee

Reason 4: Role Evolution and Expertise

As a contractor’s responsibilities expand and they accumulate specialised knowledge, transitioning them to a full-time position ensures you retain their expertise

What are the legal considerations of contractor to employee conversion?

Converting from contractor to full-time employee is a significant change that involves various legal, payroll and benefits considerations to ensure statutory compliance with labour laws and regulations.

Here are some key legal aspects to consider:
1. Employment Agreements: Review and revise the contractor’s agreement to create a new employment contract. Ensure it includes all necessary terms, such as job responsibilities, compensation, benefits, and termination conditions.

2. Worker Classification: Ensure that the classification of any worker aligns with legal guidelines in that region. Misclassifying employees as contractors or vice versa leads to legal penalties, reputation damage and liabilities.

3. Wage and Hour Compliance: Understand and comply with wage and hour laws, including minimum wage, overtime pay, and record-keeping requirements. Transitioned employees must receive fair compensation for their work.

4. Tax Withholding: Implementing appropriate tax withholding procedures for income tax, social security and health insurance is mandatory. Employers are responsible for withholding and remitting taxes for all their full-time employees.

5. Benefits and Perks: Determine which employee benefits and perks the converted employee will be entitled to, such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and other fringe benefits.

6. Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure Agreements: Review any existing non-compete or non-disclosure agreements to ensure they remain valid and enforceable after the conversion.

7. Worker’s Compensation: Ensure that the converted employee is covered by worker’s compensation insurance, as required by state laws. This insurance provides coverage for workplace injuries or illnesses.

8. Leave and FMLA: Understand and adhere to federal and state laws regarding leave entitlements, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if applicable. Determine how accrued leave balances will be handled during the transition.

9. Anti-Discrimination Laws: Comply with anti-discrimination laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Ensure that hiring and workplace practices do not discriminate against protected classes.

10. Record Keeping: Maintain accurate records related to the employee’s employment, including payroll records, tax forms, and any documentation related to employment decisions.

11. Severance and Termination: Understanding, communicating and clearly outlining severance and termination policies in the employment agreement, including notice periods and conditions for termination, is critical.

12. Consult Legal Counsel: Seek legal counsel or consult with an employment attorney to ensure that the conversion process adheres to all applicable federal, state, and local labour laws and regulations.

It’s crucial to conduct thorough due diligence and consult legal experts to navigate the legal complexities of converting a contractor to an employee, as non-compliance can lead to legal disputes, fines, and reputation damage for your organisation.

Sounds stressful? Horizons can help you maintain 100% statutory compliance while converting part-time employees, freelancers or contractors to full-time employees.

What will happen if I don’t convert
my contractor to a full-time employee?

Failure to promptly convert an independent contractor, especially when they are performing full-time work, can lead to the risk of misclassification. Misclassification occurs when authorities determine that the contractor’s role should be that of an employee. This misclassification can result in substantial fines for the company.

Let’s look at a few popular cases of misclassification covered by international media:

1. Uber and Lyft:
In various American states, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have faced legal issues regarding the classification of drivers as independent contractors. Many state courts have ordered that drivers must be reclassified as employees, potentially leading to significant changes in labour practices and benefits.

2. Deliveroo:
Food delivery app companies like Deliveroo in the UK have faced challenges over the classification of their couriers as self-employed. It has been ruled that some of these workers should be classified as employees, entitling them to minimum wage and paid leave.

3. California Trucking Companies:
Several trucking companies in California are involved in misclassification disputes related to truck drivers. The AB5 legislation aims at reclassifying many independent contractors as employees in various industries. However, this has led to legal battles between trucking companies over worker classification.

4. Didi Chuxing:
In China, vehicle-for-hire companies like Didi Chuxing (formerly named Didi Dache) have faced inspection over the classification of their drivers as contractors. Similar to cases in the USA, some drivers have argued for employee status to gain access to social security benefits and other perks.

5. Gojek and Grab:
Indonesia has seen misclassification disputes related to independent workers on online channels. Drivers for delivery businesses like Gojek and Grab have called for the correct classification of contractors as full-time employees, seeking entitlements like health insurance, paid leave and other benefits.

6. Coupang Eats:
Tech companies in South Korea have also faced careful examination over the classification of delivery workers for apps like Coupang Eats. Delivery riders have raised debated over long working hours and limited labour protections, prompting conversations around potential reclassification to full-time employment.

These examples illustrate the ongoing challenges and legal complexities surrounding worker classification in different types of businesses and countries.

However, there is an easier way to convert from contractor to employee, and it is called a Professional Employer Organization (PEO). What PEOs like Horizons do is they essentially act as the entity in the country of your employee, making it possible for you to hire, classify and manage them legally, without the stress and hassle of setting up your business entity in an entirely new region.

If you use a PEO like Horizons, you can swiftly hire, classify and manage payroll for your full-time employees while fully complying with local labour laws. 

No local entity? That’s no problem! You won’t need to worry about establishing a foreign entity. Horizons will onboard, manage, and pay your international workforce in over 180+ countries without any overhead tasks for your HR team.

Why should I use an EOR to convert contractors into full-time employees?

Using an Employer Of Record (EOR) to convert contractors to employees simplifies HR and payroll operations by a great deal. This includes:

1. Lesser Administrative Burden: By entrusting an EOR provider to manage HR and legal operations such as payroll, tax compliance and benefits administration, your company can significantly reduce its administrative workload, allowing the business to allocate resources more efficiently to strategic priorities.

2. Compliance Assurance: EORs are experts in local labour laws and country-specifc regulations, ensuring that your conversion from contractor to employee is 100% compliant, eliminating the risk of worker misclassification and penalties. For international transitions, EORs bring expertise in navigating the complexities of regional labour laws, ensuring compliance on a global scale.

3. Streamlined Process: EORs handle all administrative tasks related to employment, such as payroll, tax withholding, and benefits administration, making the transition smooth and hassle-free for both the employer and the employee.

4. Faster Onboarding: EORs can expedite the onboarding process, reducing the time it takes to convert a contractor into a full-time employee and enabling them to contribute to the company’s objectives more quickly.

5. Access to Benefits: EORs manage the administration of benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, social security and paid time off, making the transition to full-time employee more attractive to an independent worker.

6. Risk Mitigation: EORs assume all legal responsibilities as your Employer Of Record, reducing your exposure to worker misclassification risks.

7. Cost Savings: While there is a cost associated with using an EOR, it can be 70-90% more cost-effective than opening and running an entity in a foreign country, and maintaining an in-house HR department to manage the foreign-conversion process.

8. Scalability with Global Expansion Support: EOR services can be easily scaled up or down based on the company’s needs, making it a flexible solution for managing the workforce. For companies expanding into new markets, EORs can simplify the process of hiring and managing local employees, reducing the administrative burden and risks associated with international expansion.

In summary, leveraging an EOR to convert contractors into full-time employees offers a strategic and efficient approach that ensures compliance, minimises administrative burdens, and provides access to a range of benefits for both the company and the employees involved in the conversion process.

Why should I choose Horizons for all of your hiring needs?

Converting contractors or freelancers into full-time employees is a strategic decision that requires careful consideration of legal regulations. Working with an Employer of Record (EOR) and Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) like Horizons can simplify this process and ensure compliance with country-specific regulations. It’s important to choose an EOR provider with a reliable track record to communicate honestly throughout the conversion process. For instance, 1500+ global companies prefer Horizons to hire internationally and expand to new markets.

To convert from contractors to employees can be a smart move for those looking to build a committed and productive workforce. By scrutinising the benefits and challenges of the process with an EOR, you can pave the way for a smooth and compliant transition experience for your workers.

Want to learn more about how to convert from contractor to full-time employee via an EOR like Horizons?

How does the process to convert a contractor to a permanent employee really work?

Step 1:

Share the details of the independent contractor or freelancer you wish to convert to employee with your Employer of Record (EOR), in this case Horizons.

Step 2:

The contractor will then be briefed and required to sign an employment contract with the EOR, which outlines the terms, conditions, benefits and perks of employment.

Step 3:

The EOR will handle all administrative tasks to convert contractors, including payroll, taxes, health
benefits and compliance with local laws.

How can I prepare an employment contract for contractors?

When you partner with Horizons, you ensure a smooth, hassle-free employment contract and payroll experience. Contractors can be onboarded as full-time employees across 180+ countries within 24 hours.

1. Prepare an Employment Contract: Collaborate with your EOR to prepare a new employment contract for the contractor who is transitioning to a full-time employee. This contract will outline job responsibilities, compensation, benefits, and other terms of
employment.
2. Reconsider the Payroll Structure: Shifting from contractor to employee status requiresa adjustments in the payroll structure. These changes could be related to tax withholding, benefits contributions, performance variable pay and other payroll-related elements. 
3. Gross-to-Net Calculations: The EOR assists in calculating the gross-to-net pay for the employee, ensuring transparency in salary calculations, tax deductions, and benefit contributions.
4. Communication Support: The EOR takes on the responsibility of communicating the changes to the contractor. This may involve explaining the transition process, new employment terms, and any adjustments in compensation and benefits.

What are some common Contractor pushbacks I may face?

Contractors may have concerns or pushbacks during the conversion process. Common areas of concern include:

1. Payroll Structure:
Contractors may have questions or reservations about changes in their payroll structure, including deductions, tax withholding, and benefit deductions.

2. Loss of Flexibility:
Contractors often value the flexibility of their work arrangements and may be concerned about losing this flexibility as full-time employees.

3. Change in Compensation:
Contractors may want to understand how their total compensation, including benefits, compares to their previous earnings as independent contractors.

4. Impact on Taxes:
Contractors may seek information on how the conversion to employee will affect their taxes and other deductions.

5. Job Security:
Some contractors may be concerned about job security, wanting assurance that the transition won’t lead to immediate layoffs or downsizing.

6. Benefits Eligibility:
Contractors may seek clarity on the specific benefits they’ll be eligible for as full-time employees, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

7. Termination Conditions:
Contractors might want to understand the new legal process for termination of full-time employment. This would include details related to notice periods, full-and-final payments, leave encashment and severance packages.

8. Impact on Ongoing Projects:
Contractors with ongoing assignments and existing contracts may need to address how the conversion will affect their current commitments, and how or why should they terminated their other contractors.

9. Work Status:
Contractors would want to inquire about legal implications surrounding the legal conversion, specially if it involves changes in employment status, applicable worker laws and country-specific regulations.

Addressing these concerns through open and transparent communication is crucial to successfully manage the transition and alleviate any anxieties contractors may have about becoming full-time employees.

It’s important for the EOR and the client company to address these concerns and provide clear and transparent communication to ensure a smooth transition from contractor to full-time employee status. This involves explaining the benefits and advantages of the transition, such as access to employee benefits, job security, and legal compliance.

Compliantly engage and convert
independent contractors with Horizons

Horizons helps you easily convert, manage and pay contractors and employees worldwide via a single admin platform. We convert contractors to employees on your behalf to eliminate your worker misclassification risk and liabilities, while also administering payroll and benefits for you. With Horizons, HR and payroll teams can automatically calculate employee taxes without lifting a finger.

Sound like something your business could benefit from?

Get started with Horizons