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Training obligations for contractors?


We are an organisation of approx 140 staff who maintain a database of about 1,000 people who contract to do occasional, short pieces of work for us over a few years (at anyone time we probably have about 350 of these people in the field).

I need to find out what our legal (and perhaps moral) obligations are to these contractors, and to the places where they go out to carry out work on our behalf, in terms of Equality and Diversity, Health and Safety, Data Protection and Information Security (and any other compliance-type training we might need to do!).

Should they be abiding by our own policies (for staff)? Should we have separate policies specifically for them? Should we be ensuring they have read the policies and recording this with signed documentation? Should be carrying out training for them in the same way as our staff do (could be a very high cost compared to the number of days of work they do for us)? Finally if we do ask them to abide by our policies, or get them to do our training, might we risk their self-employed status?

Thanks in advance!


4 Responses

  1. Look at how they are employed

    Are these people employed directly by your organisation on an ad hoc basis? If that is the case then they should be given training. If they are employed via an agency or 3rd party then it is their responsibility to ensure that staff are trained. Regarding risking their self employed status you have to think carefully about what is offered. The risk to you as an employer is one of unfair dismissal should you not use them again but they have in essence been "treated like an employee". An ET will ask if it is reasonable to assume they were an employee. To protect yourself against that you should only offer them the basic compliance training needed for their role and nothing more. Anything beyond that could be construed as developmental and therefore that you were treating them as an employee.

  2. What is their status?


    I would tend to agree with Craig; that if they are employed under a Contract of Employment by yourselves (i.e. not through an agency) then they should have the same access to training, policies, procedures, etc. as other employees. 

    If they are engaged under a Contract for Services (either by yourselves or by a third party) then they should receive compliance training only, and nothing that could be considered "developmental".  With regard to the policies, it really depends on the policy.  For example, under a Contract for Services there should be no provision for Disciplinary and Grievance procedures, however, it is reasonable to expect these individuals to comply with your Health & Safety Policy.

    If you drop me an e-mail, I’ll send you a simple "Do’s & Dont’s" guide in relation to the management of self-employed contractors, which may provide you with some insight.


  3. Agree with other comments

     I completely echo what the others have said. If the contractor is in business of their own accord they will be extremely negative towards the idea of any training, and from a tax perspective quite rightly too. If they become what’s referred to as a "deemed employee" (an extremely simplistic view of complex tax rules would be that they do all the things employees do, such as being told what to do, when to work and doing standard training) they have to treat all income received from that contract as totally different for tax purposes.

    Furthermore, if they want to look like they really are in business of their own accord, they should be doing everything you state anyway. It’s not so much a moral thing as a "it’s their problem".

    So if their contract is a contract for services, and not a contract for employment you should be fine. I imagine that some of the stuff contained within the contract will be concerned with agreeing to work to the same standard as your established processes, especially for things such as data protection.

  4. Thanks all!

    Thanks for all these answers – really helpful in terms of knowing where to draw the line for compliance training, and I will make sure all those who are working with the contractors are made aware.


    Thanks again!


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