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A Guide to Independent Contractor Rights

Your choices for working from home are as a consultant, freelancer, telecommuter or independent contractor. The rights for each are similar in some ways, but you have your own set of rights as an independent contractor. Some of these include:

Where to Work

The employer doesn't get to dictated where you work when you're working as independent contractor. A telecommuter and some consultants and freelancers have to work where the employer says, otherwise, they'll be warned and eventually fired if they don't comply. It's one of the main independent contractor rights that entice people to work as contractors in the first place. As long as you get the project completed in the allotted time, you can work while sitting on your bed if you choose.

No Micro-Management

One of the issues involved with independent contractor rights is the issue of micro-management. You have the right to work on projects, and deliver finished works, without an employer micro-managing you along the way. If that's happening, you have a different relationship, not an independent contract relationship. That's not to say that you may not need training in the beginning of a long-term contractual relationship. For example, if you're hired as a social media manager, your employer might spend the first few weeks actively supervising you to ensure that you're producing what they're looking for. Once that training period is over, the micro management should end.

Project Completion

If you're concerned about independent contractor rights, it's because you enjoy your freedom to work when and how you choose. That includes how you complete projects assigned. One right you have is how you go about finishing projects. The employer cannot direct how you work. If they're unhappy with the outcome, they can provide instructions then.

Copyright Ownership

Some self-employed individuals are confused about independent contractor rights as it relates to copyright ownership. Whenever you create an original work, such as design a website, you are the owner of that work under copyright laws. You have all the rights of a copyright owner, including the right to sell, license or publish the work. You can see how that would be problematic for an employer. They pay you to produce something, but you have the right to profit from that work. The way that many employers solve this problem is by having contractors sign an independent contractor agreement. The contractor agrees that all works produce will be owned by the employer. If there's no agreement, then the copyrights belong to the independent contractor.

When to Work

Telecommuters, and some consultants, must work at the prescribed times given by the employer. For example, an employer might demand that a customer service representative work during business hours, five days a week. If they don't, it can be grounds of getting fired. Independent contractors are not bound in such a way. You can work the hours that best fit your schedule.

The best way to guard your independent contractor rights is in an agreement. Without one, you may be classified as something else, and these rights may not apply.

Daphne Mallory, Esqis the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.

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