Human Resources

Independent Contractors

Prior to engaging someone to perform work as an independent contractor, you must get approval from both the human resources and the risk management offices. Learn the difference between an independent contractor and an employee, and follow these steps to complete your request.

How do I Get Approval Prior to Engaging an Independent Contractor?

Step 1: Understand Criteria & Submit Form

Review the difference between a contractor and an employee below. To further assist you in understanding the difference, complete our questionnaire—work with the person you'd like to engage to answer the questions. If you believe they meet the criteria of an independent contractor, first download and complete the personal services agreement (PSA) contract and add signatures from the contractor and your budget approver. Then visit Etrieve, Reed's document management system, and submit an Independent Contractor request form. As part of the request, you will submit the completed and partially signed contract. When the request is approved, Reed's risk management office will sign the contract and upload it to Etrieve as the final step. 

Step 2: Wait for Review

Human resources and risk management will review your request and provide approval or denial within 5 business days. You are not approved to engage this person to do any work until your request is approved.

Step 3: Approval or Denial

  • If approved, you will receive an approval email with instructions on how to proceed. Note: Risk management will sign for the Reed Institute at this time and update the form within Etrieve.
  • If the request is not approved, you cannot engage the person as an independent contractor. Follow the human resources process for hiring a temporary employee.
Engaging former employees and students

In addition to following this process, if you want to engage a former employee of the college as an independent contractor, you must get the approval of the Vice President of Finance and Treasurer. Work cannot be performed and payments will not be made unless this approval has been granted.

Extending approved contracts

If the services outlined in the contract are not fully completed by the agreed-upon end date and an extension beyond 90 days is required, a contract addendum must be completed to specify the revised end date. This addendum solely alters the end date and does not impact any other terms, including compensation, as outlined in the original contract. Any modifications to terms beyond the end date require initiating the contract process again. Contact HR or Risk Management to discuss extensions and obtain appropriate addendum.

Definition of an Independent Contractor

The work of an independent contractor is unlikely to be integral to Reed or to be performed by staff and faculty. Typically, the work of an independent contractor involves project-based assignments, gig-for-hire arrangements, vendor services, guest lecturing, instructional services, or performances as artists and with a fixed duration and clearly defined scope to be completed in no more than 90 days.

An independent contractor is an individual who is free from direction and control, beyond the right of the service recipient, to specify the desired result. Independent contractors are customarily engaged in an “independently established business.” To qualify under the law, an “independently established business” must meet 3 out of the following 5 criteria:

  1. Maintain a business location that is
    1. separate from a Reed work location.
  2. Bear the risk of loss, shown by factors such as
    1. entering into fixed price contracts;
    2. purchasing liability insurance.
  3. Provide contracted services
    1. for two or more different persons within a 12-month period;
    2. or routinely engage in business advertising, solicitation, or other marketing efforts reasonably calculated to obtain new contracts to provide similar services.
  4. Make a significant investment in the business through means such as
    1. purchasing tools or equipment necessary to provide the services;
    2. paying for licenses, certificates, or specialized training required to provide the services.
  5. Have the authority to
    1. hire and fire other persons to provide assistance in performing the services.

We understand that some short duration contract work may not meet the above (i.e. guest lecturers in the classroom).

Contractor vs. Employee

Review the following list of attributes generally attributed to an "independent contractor" versus an employee.

Independent Contractor

Independent from direction & control of how work is performed by Reed

  • Completes tasks with little or no input from Reed
  • Assumes the costs associated with doing the work for Reed, comes to the job with required tools, equipment, skills
  • The individual obtains their own business license
  • Receives only payment for service
  • Pays own taxes
  • Works at their own office or home
  • Sets their own hours
  • Does not only work for Reed
  • Provides services to multiple entities, has customers as a result of advertising and being known by the public as a business
  • Not covered by Reed’s workers’ compensation
  • No rights prior to termination unless contracted
  • Paid as contracted; no overtime


  • Directed and controlled by Reed
  • Does tasks in the manner Reed requests
  • Reed provides tools, equipment, and skills training
  • The individual works under Reed’s business license
  • Often receives benefits beyond payment for service
  • Reed withholds income tax and FICA taxes
  • Works at Reed’s place of business
  • Works the hours set by Reed
  • Eligible for workers’ compensation benefits
  • Has some rights prior to termination
  • Covered by FLSA wage and hour rules

Additional Information

The appropriate contract must be completed and signed by the authorized signer and the independent contractor.