Independent contractor staffing makes tremendous sense for
dive retailers. Recreational scuba tends to be seasonal, and the demand for staff such as instructors and boat captains fluctuates during the year. Like any business, success in dive retailing requires managing overhead and cash flow, and there is a large and ready contingent of qualified instructors, divemasters, and boat captains who do not seek permanent gigs in the scuba industry but are eager to affiliate with a dive store to ply their training.
The decision whether to staff with employees or ICs hinges on a number of practical issues. Store owners are able to exercise more control over the actions and methods of employees than ICs. Employees also tend to be more committed to the store's image and business objectives than ICs. On the other hand, ICs can be brought in to help for short periods and then let go without hard feelings or legal issues, as long as both parties honor their end of the
agreement. And ICs do not require the same care and feeding as employees, such as benefits and training. The dive industry requires both types of worker to serve its customers.
But aside from these practical issues, there are other more important considerations with regard to employee vs. IC staffing, and big headaches can develop by blurring the distinction between these classifications. Problems can include a variety of unexpected liabilities from a
number of sources related to taxes, insurance and lawsuits, even when the business owner believes he or she is doing everything right. Simply labeling your contractor instructors "ICs" and issuing 1099 forms are not enough to avoid the pitfalls of worker "misclassification."
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