An Email Address Does Not Make a Vendor an Employee in Business and at Work

Over the last few months, I’ve had essentially the same question come up from 2 different NYS clients:  if an organization gives a vendor (e.g., an independent contractor, like me, who otherwise meets all of the NYS DOL requirements to qualify as an independent contractor) an organization email address to use, does that factor alone make the independent contractor an employee?

This is a key question for employers to constantly consider: to properly classify employees and vendors as defined by the NYS Department of Labor, to avoid misclassification of employees as vendors, which can create compliance and financial exposure for the organization.

In the first instance, the client was proactive in their email address query – asking the question before giving vendors an organization email address. In the second instance, the organization independently decided that a vendor with an organization email address would make the vendor an employee, putting the organization at risk for potential back taxes and fines. They chose to hire an employee for services that would have been better provided by an experienced SME (subject-matter expert) vendor, as no one in the organization knew enough to give the employee proper work guidance.

I promptly reached out to the NYS Department of Labor, and their response was simple and clear:

Having an email address on a client’s domain does not jeopardize a vendor’s status as an independent contractor, as long as the vendor meets all of the other NYS DOL requirements for an independent contractor.

Aside from vendors who have been assigned an organization email address: how do you ensure NYS DOL compliance by properly classifying employees and vendors / independent contractors respectively in business and at work?


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