Ever wondered what is the big fuss around the difference between employees and independent contractors?
The main difference between employee and Independent contractor is the nature of the contract itself.
It must be determined what the intention was of the parties to the contract – was the intention that it actually be a contract of employment, or was the intention that it actually be an Independent contractor relationship ?
The one contract (employee/employer relationship) is a Contract of Service – the employee undertakes to render his services (as opposed to an agreement to undertake and complete specific tasks) to the employer, usually for an undetermined or understated period of time, in return for which the employer undertakes to pay the employee for those services.
In the Contract of Service (employee contract) the employee is subject to the control and direction of the employer, the employer stipulates what hours the employee shall work, the employer dictates how and when the various tasks shall be performed, the employer provides all the resources to enable those tasks or services to be performed.
The employee is obliged, in terms of the contract, to obey the employer’s instructions and direction is in regard of all the above. In the Contract for Service, the “employer” may dictate a certain date by which the agreed task must be completed, but he would not, for example, be able to instruct the contractor regarding what materials must be used and how the job is to be done.
employees or contractors? The intention of the parties is KEY!
The other contract (Independent contractor) is a Contract for Service, and is usually a contract where the contractor undertakes to perform a specific service or task, and upon completion of the agreed service or task, or upon production of the result agreed upon, the contractor will be paid.
For example, you would enter into a Contract for Service with a person to paint your house. You would instruct that person regarding what colours you required the house to be painted in, and you would probably stipulate a date by which the job should be completed. You would not, however, instruct the contractor regarding what size paint brushes he must use, or where he should use paint brushes or paint rollers, or what brand of paint to use, and so on. That would be for the contractor to decide.
The contractor would be free to decide who he seems to your house to carry out the painting, and the would be free to take on painting jobs for other people – even jobs for other people with whom you may have a problem. The Contractor would also decide for himself whether he is going to attend to painting your house every day of the week for the next three weeks, or whether he will attend to your job on only two days of the week or three days of the week, he would regulate how many workers he desires to put on the job, how much he will pay them, and when he will pay them.
The “contractor” would not be free to engage in work for other companies, including companies in opposition to you, he would not be free to regulate his own working hours or days of work, he would not be free to send other people to your premises to carry out the tasks that he is contracted to carry out, and so on.
A Restraint of Trade clause can never be inserted in a true Independent Contractor agreement – it is quite simply unenforceable. You cannot restrain your painter or electrician from taking on other work, or from the painting the buildings of companies in opposition to you. Thus, if you wish the nature of the contract to be that of a true Independent contractor, you cannot put in a Restraint of Trade clause.
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