Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2012

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best practices BUSINESS SIDE | Q & ART | TABLE LESSONS | SAVVY SELF-CARE Employee or Independent Contractor? By Laura Allen Whether you're an old hand or fresh out of school and looking for your first job, you may be wondering whether you're better off working as an employee or an independent contractor. Or, you may already be working and wondering if you're being misclassified as one or the other. It's a hot topic, not only for the worker, but for the employer as well. It's such an issue that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) actually has a form (Form SS- 8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding) to help those who may need assistance in deciding. According to the IRS, there are three characteristics that determine the classification of a worker: • Behavioral Control concerns whether the business has a right to direct or control how the worker's job is done through instructions, training, or other means. • Financial Control covers whether the business has a right to direct or control the financial and business aspects of the worker's job. • Type of Relationship relates to how the workers and the business owner perceive their relationship.1 If the employer controls not only what is to be done, but also how it is to be done, then the worker is most likely an employee. If the employer is only vested in the end result, and not directing how that is accomplished, the worker is most likely an independent contractor. If that distinction doesn't help, the IRS will be glad to make that determination for people who fill out and submit Form SS-8. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? Working as an employee is a relatively cut- and-dried situation: you work the hours you're scheduled, do as you're told, and receive a paycheck. The primary difference in the paycheck of an employee and the paycheck of an independent contractor is that taxes have been withheld from an employee's paycheck. In the work environment, the employer usually provides everything you need, from the massage table to the linens to the massage creams and spa products you're expected to use. An employer is paying you for your time, which means you may be required to do something other than massage during your shift, whether that's helping with the laundry, covering the front desk, or cleaning during down time between your massage appointments. WHERE'S THE BEEF? An independent contractor is a self- employed person who does what she does either in her space or someone else's. The beef, according to many of the contractors I hear from, is that independent contractors are often treated as if they are employees. Some are expected to hang around the office all day for no compensation, even when they have no appointments, in the event someone walks in and wants a massage. Others are required to do desk duty, laundry, cleaning, and other jobs that are of benefit to the employer for no 26 massage & bodywork july/august 2012

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