Practice Areas

Companies Beware! Do Not & "Train" Your Independent Contractors

June 2012

By: Nancy E. Joerg, Esq.

Many companies feel that it is very important for them to train their independent contractors so they know exactly how to treat the company's customers. However, the word "training" is a loaded term in the independent contractor/employee area. Training implies that the company needs to teach the independent contractor how to do the job. If what you really mean is that you are sharing information with the independent contractor about customer needs, do not term this activity training.

Companies who are concerned about high quality performance from their independent contractors often ask: "Can I give an independent contractor a training manual?" The answer is "No." This is a very dangerous high risk practice. It will be positive proof that you are, in fact, training the independent contractor. It is best to put all suggestions, orientation materials, governmental rules and regulations, manufacturer information, etc. into a book and entitle it "Orientation Materials," or "Suggestions for Independent Contractors," etc.

Companies also ask: "I like to have annual meetings with my independent contractors. I believe it builds group morale. Is this okay?" The answer is that meetings with independent contractors should not be mandatory (unless required by law), nor should they be called "training" sessions. Mandatory meetings are viewed by auditors and courts as evidence of control over the independent contractors.

The word "training" should not appear in your written materials, contracts, brochures, websites, or bookkeeping entries with reference to your independent contractors.

Questions or concerns? Call Attorney Nancy E. Joerg of Wessels Sherman's St. Charles, Illinois office: 630-377-1554 or email her at najoerg@wesselssherman.com.