Just worked with a very nice lady on the issue of whether her barn workers could be independent contractors. It’s a question that many folks in the equine industry deal with not only with barn workers, but also with grooms, trainers and other service providers.
The bottom line is that the more you control the why, where and when of what this person does, the more likely the person is to be considered by the IRS to be an employee. Why do they care? Because if someone is your employee you pay a portion of their taxes by withholding certain amounts from their paychecks. While we as barn owners would prefer that they all be independent contractors, often they really should be, and would be if the IRS knew about it, employees of the barn owner.
If someone working for you does the same work for other folks and is generally available to the public for the same type of work (like a farrier typically is, for example), then they are more likely to survive your classifying them as an independent contractor.
However, if your worker only works for you the majority of the time and you tell him/her where to be and what to do and how to do it, they are most likely to be considered an employee of the barn.
Also don’t forget that you have more legal liability for a worker’s actions when he/she is an employee (or could be considered an employee), so be sure your insurance liability coverage is adequate (as much as you can afford) and covers the actions of your employees (and independent contractors, if you can manage that too).
Ragsdale Liggett PLLC (www.rl-law.com)
If you get into a bind and need assistance or just want to ask some questions to avoid getting in a bind, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I often will answer a short and simple question for free if I have time and know the answer off the top of my head! If you don’t hear back from me quickly, it’s not because I don’t love you or think you have a great question or because I don’t know the answer (usually), I’m probably just really busy and haven’t had a chance to email back. You can check out our firm’s Equine Law Group at www.rl-law.com if you’re interested, and yes, in addition to providing what I hope are interesting and informative stories and information, this blog is also an advertisement for legal services. I have to tell you that in bold, says the State Bar.