It’s been awhile since we posted a legal writing sample. Long enough that the ever-evolving world of search engine optimization (SEO) and online marketing have raised doubts on what we used to consider best practices of marketing. One of the important aspects of online legal marketing that has fallen into dispute has to do with the difference between evergreen and topical blog posts.
So, here’s a sample post for corporate and employment lawyers on the difference between independent contractors and employees in the state of Maryland. In our next post, we’ll analyze two important ways that our new blogs have changed, and then delve into how the line between evergreen and topical blog posts is moving in favor of timely articles.
Businesses in Maryland who are looking to hire have an important decision to make: Whether to hire an employee or bring on an independent contractor. There are pros and cons to each, and the final decision is something that will ultimately depend on a host of factors. The final decision to bring on an independent contractor, though, is not really set in stone: Even if you hire an independent contractor, you can end up with an employee if you treat the contractor like a member of your salaried staff.
Agreeing to an Independent Contractor Relationship Does Not Settle the Issue
Many businesses have an important misconception: If they hire an independent contractor and sign a contract that explicitly states that the working relationship is between a business and a contractor, then there is nothing more to the situation. Forever after, the independent contractor remains an independent contractor.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, at all. In Maryland, an agreement like this actually carries little to no weight in an employment dispute. Instead, the real-life details of the working relationship will dictate the nature of the employment relationship. This turns a seemingly simple question—is a worker an independent contractor or an employee?—into a fact-intensive question that can as easily go one way as the other.
Important Factors for a Working Relationship
While Maryland’s employment law refuses to say which factors are more or less important than others, there are numerous pieces to the puzzle. Some of these factors include:
- Permanency of the relationship: If the working relationship is meant to be short or has a stated end date, it suggests the worker is an independent contractor. If it is long or the business will have to pay severance for firing the worker, it suggests the worker is an employee.
- Tool provision: If the business provides the tools that the worker needs to complete their tasks, it suggests that there is an employer / employee relationship.
- Ability to work with others: If the worker is free to work with other companies doing the same thing they are doing for your businesses, it suggests that they are independent contractors.
- Full-time or part-time status: Similarly, if a worker is working for one particular business on a full-time basis, it suggests that they are employees because they are not able to work with other companies. Additionally, paying workers less money simply because they are not working full-time suggests that they are employees.
The Big Question: How Much Control is Exerted?
In the end, the factors all tend to point to one important question: How much control is the business exerting over the worker? Employers have the right to exert much more control over their employees because they are paying far more in benefits, job security, and legal protection. Businesses cannot exert as much control over independent contractors because they are withholding all of these additional benefits and protections.
Why the Distinction Matters So Much
Strictly abiding by the distinction between employees and independent contractors can prevent the awkward situation where you hire an independent contractor, treat them like an employee, and then have to make back payments for all of the benefits that they were legally entitled to receive.
Maryland Corporate and Employment Lawyer at Smith and Jones
By hiring the corporate lawyer at the fictional law office of Smith and Jones in Baltimore, you can stay on the right side of Maryland’s employment law. Contact us online for the legal you need to keep your business protected.
This is not the only legal blog sample we’ve posted. We’ve also written blog samples for:
- Criminal defense attorneys, covering both bail and how to analyze a case in a blog
- DUI-defense attorneys, covering both field sobriety tests and SR-22 insurance requirements
- Personal injury attorneys, covering both topical car accidents and what to do after a pedestrian accident
- Divorce attorneys
- Immigration attorneys