Independent Contractors

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Independent Contractor

Independent contractors

Independent contractors sometimes come into your workplace to carry out a specific task or to complete a project. While they are experts in their field, they may not know much about your business, the premises you work in, or the possible hazards of working there. This puts them at more potential risk than your employees.

You may need contractors to maintain machinery or install equipment, for cleaning, pest control, servicing photocopiers or fixing the air conditioning. Sometimes their work can create hazards for employees working nearby, for example, loud noise. It is important to talk to your contractors about potential hazards and risks, as well as making sure the workplace is safe for them and your employees.

If you are a contractor, always consider the risks your workers face when going out to a client, whether they are risks of the job or workplace. Consider their activities and potential effects on the health and safety of client employees, for example, where cleaning creates wet and slippery surfaces.

The differences between an independent contractor and employee

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between an employee and an independent contractor. Here are the main differences:

Employees  Independent Contractors 
Your business has the right to control how, where and when an employee does their work.  You and the contractor will agree on how, where and when their work is done. 
The employee serves your business. They are contractually bound to perform work as a representative of your business.  The contractor provides services to your business. They perform this work to further their own business. They may or may not choose to present themselves as part of your business. 
The employee is regularly paid either: 

  • For the time worked. 
  • Each time they complete a deliverable or activity. 
  • A commission. 


The contractor is tasked with achieving a specific result or completing a project and is paid when they have done so. Often the fee is fixed before the contractor’s work begins. 
The employee must perform the work themselves and cannot pay someone else to complete it for them.  The contractor is free to assign work to others, who the contractor pays for completing tasks on their business’s behalf. 
Your business provides all or most of the equipment, tools and material required to complete the work. If the employee sources them, your business provides them with an allowance or reimburses them for expenses incurred.  The contractor provides all or most of the equipment, tools and materials required to complete their work. In most cases, you do not give them an allowance or reimbursement for expenses incurred. 
The employee bears little or no risk. Your business bears the commercial risk for any costs arising out of injury or defect in their work.  The contractor bears the commercial risk for any costs arising out of injury or defect in their work. 


Employsure advisers can help you with the process of employing contractors or permanent staff. If you have any employer relations or health & safety questions, please call our FREE Advice Line now on 1300 651 415.

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