Avoiding Legal Issue With Freelancers And Contractors

Legal Issues

With the economy still in a rough spot many employers are turning to a work force of contractors and freelancers to round out their workforces, with many companies in the media and video-production realm following suit. And while it may seem more financially efficient to have a smaller number of full time workers and more freelancers for whom you don’t have to pay health insurance and benefits, one should still be wary about the legal issues that can arise.  Over the past 3 years, the Internal Revenue Service has set a lofty goal of investigating over 6,000 employers to make sure their workers are classified appropriately. I recently ran across a nice little article on Mashable that gives some great information on the best ways to make sure you’re handling independent contractors and freelancers in the most appropriate fashion.

The Definition Of The Word

The actual definition of contractor and employee can be difficult to pin down since the two positions can sometimes blend together and be rather hard to distinguish from each other. The Small Business Association has two relatively straightforward explanations for each one. Independent contractors are considered individuals who have their own equipment and checking accounts, work under a separate business name, have several different clients, keep business records and issue invoices. Employees, on the other hand, only have one singular employer who provides training and gives them duties to carry out. While most assume that much of the difference between the two lies in the number of hours worked, it actually boils down to their level of independence.

Avoiding Trouble

To make sure I.R.S. auditors don’t come knocking on your door, here are a few simple but important rules to follow when working with contractors. Do not have them work at your office or use any of your equipment unless it’s absolutely necessary. Contractors who have only one client—you—should be seen as a red flag. One of the most important rules is to make sure all your independent contractors are issued a 1099 form, since it’s something all auditors will want to see. Avoid exerting too much control over contractors, for example, by giving them specific hours to work or incredibly tight deadlines that would require a full-time commitment. Do not give contractors an employee handbook or ever refer to them as employees, as even simple language is something to be mindful of. Contractors should also should be issuing invoices for their work on a regular basis, since that’s the basis from which they should be issued payment.




How To Talk Back On Social Media

two way convo

The Beauty Of Social Media

As I’ve said quite a few times in this blog, one of the best things about social media and the way it’s changed the nature of business is the relationships that it sets up. Gone are the days where customers could only get messages to their favorite brands via old snail mail or by telephone. Today people just have to pick up a smart phone and an endless number of social media channels become available for a message. They can go right onto a brand’s own Facebook, Twitter or Youtube page and get their voices heard. With this new freedom of expression however, brands and businesses now must be wary, since their fans can just as easily use these channels to complain or spew something negative. This is the importance of how relationships, and more specifically, two-way relationships, come into play and how social media can sometimes backfire no matter what business you’re in. While perusing Mahsable, I came upon this article that showed some great examples.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Some shining examples of a good two-way conversation include  a person who went on a JetBlue flight and then tweeted how much he enjoyed it, to which JetBlue tweeted back, “Great, does this mean we’ll see you again?” Another great example includes someone who tweeted that there was only one Oreo left in her bag and she didn’t want to be the one to eat it. Nabisco’s @Oreo tweeted back and just told her, “Go for it!!!”

While these might seem like silly examples, they underscore an extremely important point. Everyone who has an online brand, whether a big business, local production house, or even a freelancer, wants to build that human touch. Of course there have been a few ways that social media relationships have backfired on bigger companies. McDonald’s used a new hashtag on Twitter to promote positive stories customers had the at the famous chain. Instead, people used it to share their horror stories from the restaurant. One other example comes from England, where Snickers paid celebrities to tweet pictures of themselves eating the candy bar. The UK’s Office of Fair Trading investigated the ads, since companies are required to specifically spell out when a product is being endorsed.

Laying A Foundation For That Two-Way Conversation

Corporations today try use social media to build a personal relationship with their audience, which is what they should be doing—and so should you. Personification is truly the name of the game here. Your customers should always feel like you have their back and that there is genuine give and take in the relationship. While you may not be a huge corporation with millions or billions of dollars to throw around, you still want to make sure you have a positive presence online. If you put something out there and someone comments on it, you should respond even if it’s a negative comment. Your aim should be to make these interactions as natural as possible and show that you care.