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October 9, 2023 - 2:45pm

Article written by John Stearns on

Understanding the distinctions between independent contractors and employees is essential for construction company owners to ensure compliant and efficient payroll management. From tax obligations and payroll expenses to overtime regulations and record-keeping, each classification has significant implications. 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the important differences between independent contractors and employees and explore five ways their classification affects payroll processes. Let’s dive in!

5 Differences Between Independent Contractors & Employees

Tax Obligations

The classification of workers as independent contractors or employees significantly impacts tax obligations. For employees, the employer is responsible for withholding and remitting payroll taxes, such as federal and state income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare taxes. In contrast, independent contractors are responsible for managing their own taxes, including self-employment taxes. Accurately categorizing workers is essential to ensure compliance with tax laws and avoid potential penalties.

Payroll Expenses

When it comes to payroll, classifying workers as employees involves additional expenses for the employer. Beyond the worker’s wages, employers are responsible for paying various costs, such as unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and employee benefits like healthcare coverage and retirement plans. Independent contractors, on the other hand, are responsible for their own insurance and benefits, alleviating some of the financial burdens for the company.

Overtime Regulations

Classification also affects overtime regulations. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), hourly employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one and a half times their regular hourly wage for hours worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek. However, independent contractors and salaried employees are not eligible for overtime pay. Misclassifying workers and failing to pay appropriate overtime can lead to legal repercussions and financial liabilities for construction companies.

Control and Independence

One of the key factors distinguishing employees from independent contractors is the level of control and independence they have in their work. Employees typically work under direct supervision and guidance, following company policies and procedures. In contrast, independent contractors generally have more control over their work processes, schedules, and methods. This distinction in control can impact payroll, as it helps determine whether the worker should be classified as an employee or an independent contractor.

Record-Keeping and Reporting

Proper classification of workers plays a vital role in accurate record-keeping and reporting. Employers must maintain comprehensive records for employees, including timecards, wage rates, and payroll reports to be filed monthly, quarterly, and annually. For example, W-2s are essential for annual payroll tax filing . These records are necessary for payroll calculations, tax reporting, and complying with labor laws. Independent contractors, while still requiring records, have less stringent reporting requirements compared to employees. For example, if an independent contractor is paid over $600 in a year, a 1099 form must be filed. Nonetheless, maintaining accurate records for both classifications is crucial to avoid potential audits and disputes.

BONUS TIP: Don’t write a check for an independent contractor until you receive a W-9, just in case you get audited. You may not know in May if you will need to issue a 1099, but if by end of year you’ve paid them over $600 you’ll want to be covered. You don’t want to be tracking people down at the last minute trying to get information for 1099s. It’s a slippery slope and you want to be prepared.

The Bottom Line

By correctly classifying workers and implementing robust payroll processes, construction companies can mitigate legal risks, maintain financial stability, and foster positive relationships with their workforce. With you can classify workers with ease, ensuring their wage rates are correct. is designed to address the unique needs of construction business owners, with multi-state, multi-rate, and multi-trade wage calculation capabilities, flexible employee pay options as well as the ability to capture job costs and labor assignments.

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