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What are the different types of employment status?

Employers must assign the right employment status to employees while hiring internationally or risk facing serious consequences

  • What is employment status?

  • How can legal and HR leaders ensure they’re assigning the right employment status to employees?

What is employment status?

What is employment status?

Employment status is a term used to define the nature of a person's relationship with their work or the organization for which they work. It refers to whether a person is an employee, a self-employed person, a contractor, or a worker in a more unconventional employment arrangement, like temporary or part-time roles.

This concept is not just about titles; it's about the legal obligations and rights that come with each status. For instance, an employee typically has a set schedule, receives benefits like health insurance, and has taxes withheld from their paycheck. On the other hand, an independent contractor often has more control over their work, is usually not eligible for company benefits, and is responsible for their own taxes.

For HR leaders, understanding employment status is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it helps to correctly classify individuals, ensuring they receive the rights and benefits they're entitled to, which in turn affects their satisfaction and productivity. Secondly, it aids in compliance with employment laws, reducing legal risks for the organization. And lastly, it assists in budget planning, since different types of employment have different cost implications.

For legal leaders, the importance of employment status can't be overstated. The classification of a person’s employment status impacts the legal obligations that an organization has towards that individual. Misclassification can result in severe penalties, including fines and back payments for benefits and taxes. Additionally, accurate classification is vital to minimize the risk of lawsuits or disputes, which can harm a company's reputation and financial health.

Employment status also has significant implications for global teams. The globalization of work has increased the complexity of employment classification, as different countries have varying laws. Thus, compliance with these laws is absolutely vital. Misclassification can lead to legal issues not only in one jurisdiction but across multiple countries, which can significantly escalate the consequences.

How can legal and HR leaders ensure they’re assigning the right employment status to employees?

How can legal and HR leaders ensure they’re assigning the right employment status to employees?

Here’s what you can do as an employer to ensure you're correctly determining and managing employment status:

Firstly, familiarize yourself with the employment laws in each country where your team members work. This includes understanding the specific criteria used in each jurisdiction to define an employee versus an independent contractor or other roles. Ensure you're up-to-date with these laws, as they can change frequently.

Next, establish clear guidelines for the classification of employment within your organization. These guidelines should align with legal requirements and be communicated effectively to all relevant parties. This helps prevent confusion and misclassification.

Regularly review your classifications to ensure they remain accurate. Roles and responsibilities can evolve, potentially changing an individual's employment status. Regular reviews help catch these changes early, reducing the risk of misclassification.

Moreover, keep open lines of communication with both employees and contractors. If they understand their classification and the reasons for it, they're more likely to accept it and less likely to dispute it.

Remember, correctly determining employment status isn't just about avoiding legal trouble; it's about treating your team members fairly, fostering a positive work environment, and ultimately, contributing to the success of your organization. This, in turn, builds trust with team members and promotes loyalty, helping your organization grow and thrive.

Expert advice
HR and legal teams can get it right by:

Knowing local laws: Stay updated on employment laws in every country where your team works.

Setting clear guidelines: Define employee vs. contractor roles based on legal requirements and communicate them openly.

Regularly reviewing classifications: Roles evolve, so adapt classifications to ensure accuracy.

Maintaining open communication: Discuss the status with employees and contractors for clarity and acceptance.



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