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3 Key Benefits Of “Training” Independent Contractors

27 July 2018

5 Min Read


If you work in the field of human resources management, you probably have quite a bit of experience hiring independent contractors. Sometimes, it just makes sense to outsource a job to someone else – particularly in areas where you have little business expertise, such as Information Technology.

You may be tempted to simply hire a contractor and let them do their work – without making them go through the corporate training, eLearning, and other interactive training programs which new hires usually have to undergo. After all, it’s not like you need to invest in the future of education for an employee who won’t actually work for you for the rest of their career, right?

Wrong. The development of employee skills and understanding of corporate policies is important for everyone, even contractors. Don’t believe us? Take a look at these three key benefits of training your independent contractors, and you’re likely to change your mind.

A Legal Note – You Can’t Require Independent Contractors To View Orientation Materials

When you’re hiring independent contractors, you’re responsible for making sure that they are classified correctly – which means you can’t treat them like you would treat full-time employees. If you treat a contractor just like you would a full-time employee, you risk violating IRS rules about the misclassification of employees.

This is a bit of a legal “gray area”. While you are free to provide contractors with training materials and other orientation material, you should not require them to read corporate handbooks, or take other training courses. The materials must be optional – because you are technically a “client” and not the the employer of the contractor.

However, you should still be supplying your contractors with the materials that they need to do their jobs – and this could include training courses and other learning materials. The choice of whether or not they actually use these materials is simply up to them.

The Benefits Of Providing Training Materials To Independent Contractors

Despite the fact that you cannot mandate a contractor to read or use your training materials, you can still enjoy some benefits by providing them as orientation materials, and suggesting that contractors use them to familiarize themselves with your company and policies.

1. You May Be Able To Avoid Legal Issues And Liability – One example of this would be if you worked at a hospital or another healthcare company, and you brought on a third-party contractor to do some IT work for you. Naturally, the contractor should already be familiar with HIPAA and other provisions related to the protection of healthcare information.

But you can protect yourself further legally by providing them with orientation materials related to corporate policies for HIPAA and the governance of Protected Health Information (PHI). This way, if the contractor ends up violating the law or regulation, you can provide evidence that they had all the information they needed about the policy – which can reduce your legal liability.

2. You Can Foster Better Employee Engagement With Contractors – When a contractor takes the time to understand your corporate policies – such as the use of social media at work, your corporate culture, and the attitude they are expected to have when working with others – this makes your employees more likely to engage with them.

This is especially important when you have a team of full-time employees working with one or more contractors. It’s common for contractors and employees to have disagreements – especially when their areas of expertise overlap. Allowing contractors to have the option to familiarize themselves with your company can help create a more positive, team-oriented working environment.

 3. New Contractors Have Hands-Off Orientation Options – Again, you can’t make training or reading of corporate materials mandatory for a new contractor. This is seen as “enforcing control” over an independent contractor.

However, you are likely to have many contractors come and go, due to the temporary nature of their employment. Because of this, supplying them with optional orientation materials is a great idea. Should they choose to do so, they can quickly get a top-level overview and education about your company, which will improve their on-the-job performance, and allow them to become an effective worker quickly.

As a rule, just remember that you are allowed to provide contractors with all of the educational materials that you want, as long as you make it clear that they are merely reference and orientation resources – and that they are not strictly required to read them.

Give Your Contractors The Tools They Need To Succeed

It may seem tricky to “train” contractors, but it’s worth taking the time to compile orientation information for new third-party contractors. Doing so will allow them to become a more competent contractor, should they choose to view the materials.

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