Category Archives: Freelancers

Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Program.

PFML_Employer_OverviewWashington is soon to be the fifth state to offer paid family and medical leave benefits. All workers will no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and making ends meet. They can dedicate their time away from work to be the best caretaker they can be. In return employers have access to an inexpensive benefit, save on payroll costs while the worker is on leave, and reduced employee turnover costs.

Workers can begin taking leave in 2020, but next year employers will have some actions to take.

First, employers need to withhold premiums from paychecks starting with the first check in 2019. These premiums are split between employers and workers. Workers foot most of the bill, but employers with 50 or more employees have a portion to pay also. (Employers with fewer than 50 employees don’t have to pay premiums but are still responsible for collecting and remitting the workers share.) Premiums are paid to the Employment Security Department by employers quarterly, starting in 2019. Learn more about premiums on the Premiums page.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I win in the gig economy?

The “gig economy” — the market for individuals providing services or working on projects on a freelance on-demand or short-term contract basis — has been a growing trend. While there are no official gig economy statistics available to measure its prominence, we can make some assumptions about its increasing popularity based on other available data. 

According to information reported by the United States Census Bureau, the number of non-employer businesses, the group of individuals most likely to work on gig basis,  was 24,331,403 in 2015. That’s 10% more than the 22,110,628 non-employer businesses in 2010.

And opportunity abounds for independent professionals who take on gig assignments. Many businesses outsource work to independent contractors and freelancers when their staffs are overwhelmed and to avoid the costs of benefits and ongoing payroll that come with hiring new employees.   Continue reading

Ask SCORE: Should I work with contractors or hire employees for my small business?

As your small business grows, you will reach a point when you can’t do everything by yourself. To get the help you need, you can choose to outsource various tasks to independent contractors or hire employees and delegate the work.

To decide which will make the most sense for you and your company, it’s important to understand some of the key differences between working with independent contractors and having employees on staff.

Years ago, I owned a “virtual” marketing services firm. I worked with a group of talented creative people — designers, illustrators, photographers, and others. I asked them to work on projects for my clients, and they often asked me to work on projects for their clients. We all had licensed businesses and we enjoyed working with each other.   Continue reading

Ask SCORE: What should I do before I hire my first employee?

Hiring employees for your small business can help lighten your workload. But it also creates the need to manage something you didn’t need to worry about when you were handling all aspects of your business by yourself:

Payroll.

Even if you have just one employee, you need to do payroll accurately and in compliance with all legal and regulatory responsibilities. If you don’t, you could incur costly penalties from the Internal Revenue Service.

Before you hire your first employee and put processes in place to handle payroll, make sure you pay attention to two important details.  Continue reading

LLCs for Freelancers: Understanding Liability Protection

Nearly every professional freelancer eventually faces the question of whether to remain a sole proprietor or form an LLC. The question becomes more taxing as business grows and the potential for liability increases.

As a freelancer, you may have heard that forming an LLC provides liability protection. While this is true, it is not an impenetrable shield.

Understanding how liability works is crucial for protecting you and your freelance business.

The most important difference between a sole proprietorship and an LLC is that the limited liability company is a legal entity separate from you, the freelancer. If your LLC is sued while pursuing its business, the company’s assets are at risk, but your personal assets are not.  Continue reading

Infographic: Freelancing On the Rise

What’s the freelance economy? Where do you fit in?

Our ideas about work have changed dramatically in the past few years, and we take a closer look in our latest infographic, “The Freelance Economy: How Work Has Changed.”

The freelance workforce grows

Freelancers make up 34 percent of the U.S. workforce — that’s 54 million people who earn some of their income from self-employment! These independent contractors come in every shape, size, age and industry.

While many Baby Boomers are consultants, Generation X and Millennials make up the largest groups of full-time freelance entrepreneurs, according to a study by MBO Partners.

Who’s to thank for this increase in freelance work opportunities? Newer technology helps. Almost 70 percent of freelancers feel the internet and social media have expanded their work opportunities, with help from talent marketplaces, mobile apps and co-working spaces.  Continue reading

Employee or independent contractor. What’s the difference?

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor is tackling employee misclassification because so much depends upon the answer to that question. 

Imagine working as a drywall installer building houses as an employee one day, but the next day, while performing the same work on the same site for the same company, you’re told you are now considered an independent contractor. You didn’t suddenly open a business of your own. Nothing about your work changed. But now, you’re told that since you’re no longer an employee, you’re no longer eligible for overtime pay, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation or a host of other benefits that come with employee status.

That really happened to a group of workers recently, who we discovered were owed back wages after conducting an investigation. And unfortunately, this situation is all too common − with terrible consequences. Misclassified employees are often denied access to the critical benefits and protections they are entitled. Misclassification also generates substantial losses to the federal government and state governments in the form of lower tax revenues, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation funds. It forces workers to pay the entirety of their payroll (FICA) tax. It also tips the scales against all of the employers who play by the rules and undermines the economy.  Continue reading