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Can You Tell an Independent Contractor When to Work?

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Employing a freelance contractor can be a highly effective way of getting short, one-off projects done quickly and efficiently without permanently expanding the company’s workforce. But how much control do you have with freelance contractors? Can you legally tell a freelancer when to work? If so, how?

Is Telling an Independent Contractor When to Work Legal? 

Strictly speaking, companies cannot tell an independent contractor when to work. Independent contractors have the right to say when they can and will work and when they will not.

The flexibility of choosing your own hours is one of the reasons people leave full-time jobs to become independent contractors and freelancers. It is a trade-off between a steady and consistent income versus working for yourself and setting your own hours. 

However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have any control over the hours an independent contractor works. Before hiring a freelancer, have a frank two-way discussion about what you expect from one another. That includes hours. 

It could be that a project you need to complete does not require specific working hours, but has a strict deadline. Or, your independent contractor may need to be available during the same hours as other employees within the company. 

Whatever the time requirements are for the project, discuss them openly with your potential freelancer. You will also discuss how they are paid and on what basis. Determine if they will be paid by project or by the hour.

If you are paying your contractor by the hour or by the day, you will likely want them to work specific hours. If that is the case, make that clear to the contractor before onboarding them to your project.

But remember, some independent contractors may need to work outside normal office hours, due to time zone differences or other jobs. So, be willing to be flexible yourself.

You do not need to hire a contractor that won’t work the hours you need them to. With so many freelancers available, you can find one that is the perfect fit for your needs.

How to Effectively Work With a Freelancer

Once you have found your ideal freelancer who can work the hours you need, how do you effectively work with them? 

The following are three of the best ways to optimize productivity and your working relationship with your freelancer.

1. Set Clear Expectations From the Start

Setting clear expectations with your contractor from the start is crucial. Without clarity, you may end up with a finished project that is far below your expectations – if it meets your targets at all. It could be a costly setback. It is also important for the contractor to explain how they work and what you can expect from them. 

2. Have Regular Check-Ins

To ensure that your project is efficiently completed, have regular check-ins with each other. This does not mean micromanaging the contractor – far from it. Instead, it opens the lines of communication and ensures that you are both working effectively. It also helps minimize the chance of issues spiraling out of control. 

3. Include Them in the Team

If you have a contractor working with you for a fairly long time, it can be highly beneficial to include them as part of the team. It helps motivate the contractor and builds working relationships between them and your core team members. It will also align their interests with your company’s goals, thus helping them produce higher quality work.

Hiring an Independent Contractor

Hiring an independent contractor can be a fantastic and effective method of completing projects by harnessing a person’s expertise without going through a lengthy hiring process. However, given the unique employment of an independent contractor, you will not be able to tell them what hours to work, and it’s a relationship you will manage differently than regular employees. The key is to find the right freelancer and to make the most of the advantages they offer.

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