Veterinary Independent Contractor Agreements | Veterinarian Agreement
When sickness or injuries strike your beloved family pet, you will likely rush them to your trusted veterinarian to take care of them. Most people in this situation do not realize that the vet that sees their pet today may have been working at a completely different clinic yesterday.
The work landscape for veterinarians has changed, and the days of being able to count on a specific veterinarian seeing your pet every time may be drawing to an end. While many companies still hire full-time vets that work in one location, there has been a push in recent years for more and more vets to work on an independent contractor (IC) basis versus an employed veterinary associate position. We will explore what this means for vets, their employers, and clients.
What is a Veterinary Independent Contractor?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lists veterinarians as one of the professions that often fall under the independent contractor definition. They also mention:
- Public Stenographers
These professions and many others are considered independent contractors in some circumstances. What this means is that they are self-employed and will likely not receive any professional benefits from the organization. They do not work for a specific employer, but they provide their services for pay to whoever happens to need those services at this time. They agree with the entity they go to work for, and they perform the service for a set pay rate.
One doesn’t necessarily think of veterinarians as a job classification that would be ideally set up to work as independent contractors, but they are. Clients have sick and injured pets throughout the world, and it is sometimes more accessible for a veterinarian to establish themselves as independent contractors and work wherever needed.
How Does This Practice Arrangement Benefit Veterinarians?
Veterinarians are often left with a decision to make regarding their own future. That decision involves whether they will ultimately decide to be an independent contractor or if they wish to pursue the full-time employee route. Some are tempted to sign on as employees simply because they are already familiar with working in this fashion. However, there are some upsides to being an independent contractor that should not be ignored.
Controlling your own time and hours is a tremendous upside to working as an independent contractor. There may be some situations in which an individual has to be at a particular location for a set time, but they are the ones who are entirely in charge of their schedule and deciding where they will go at any given time. A flexible work schedule allows them to do their best work when and where they want to:
You can have a very flexible work arrangement as a contractor, especially if you’re on a self-regulated schedule, working the hours you want and need. This also means that you can fit your schedule in with your lifestyle aspirations, deciding when the best time to work is.
Higher Earnings Potential
Taking on higher-paying work is always possible when someone is actively working as an independent contractor. They are never locked into one employer. This means that they retain the possibility of working for another company if they determine that their skills will be more handsomely rewarded somewhere else. These opportunities arise from time to time, and it is nice to know that you can take them on as an independent contractor.
The Ability to Turn Down Work
Establishing strict work-life boundaries is important to many people these days. There is a burnout crisis in the veterinarian industry, and some vets are saying enough is enough. They do not want to put their mental and physical health on the line for any employer. Thus, plenty of vets are looking to go the independent contractor route to save themselves on some of the emotional damage that working far too many hours puts on them.
This all probably sounds pretty great, but make sure you have a veterinary contract lawyer look over any veterinarian independent contractor agreements before you sign them just to be safe.
Do Employers Like IC Agreements?
Technically speaking, the party that is paying money in veterinarian independent contractor agreements is not an employer. That is one of the upsides of working as an independent contractor. The party that pays money in this scenario is avoiding many of the responsibilities of being an employer. Instead, they agree to a particular service at a specific price and contract with a veterinarian to provide that service. If both sides of the arrangement can agree on the price, then everything is all set just perfectly.
The reasons why companies like IC agreements are because:
- Less Liability – Independent contractors do not have the same rights to bring a lawsuit if they feel like they are being discriminated against. Obviously, companies should not discriminate against someone providing a service to them at any time. Still, they can rest a little easier knowing that they are shielded from accusations that they have done something like this.
- No Benefits are Provided – Employees are often provided a whole buffet of benefits to come and work at a specific place. The same is not valid for independent contractors. They don’t have to be offered anything. Thus, companies will often look to bring in independent contractors to fill some of the gaps in the services that they currently provide.
Why You Need a Lawyer to Look Over Everything
There is no reason not to have an attorney look over any forms that you may think about signing regarding your independent contractor status. Having your attorney review those forms is the reasonable and responsible thing to do in these circumstances. Far too many people get themselves in tough spots when they don’t take the time necessary to have a professional look at what they are doing.
If you consider taking the independent contractor route as a veterinarian, we would love to speak with you at Chelle Law. We know what to look out for in an independent contractor agreement, and we can steer you in the right direction. Before you sign anything, please contact us and let us look at what you agree to.
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