Determining Employment or Contract Services

Before you can engage and pay someone to perform any kind of work or services for the college, you must determine the business relationship that should exist between Williams and the person performing the work or services. 

The person performing the work/services may be

  • An independent contractor, or
  • An employee (this includes regular, term, and temporary workers)

These designations are determined by federal and state law, NOT by Williams or any other employer. 

We have to correctly classify workers and service providers, as there are legal and financial risks to misclassifying someone as a contractor when they might actually be an employee (note that there are very few risks to misclassifying someone as an employee). 

Massachusetts has a three-prong test to determine if someone is an employee or an independent contractor. To be properly classified as an independent contractor, each of the following must be true:

  1. the individual is free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under their contract for the performance of service and, in fact; and
  2. the service is performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer; and,
  3. the individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed.

Please complete this checklist before proceeding, which will help you correctly determine how the worker or service provider should be classified. 

The college should generally err on the side of caution and classify the worker as an employee. Examples:

  1. You want to hire a graphic designer to do some work for a flyer for your department. Williams already employs other visual artists, and this person performs work independently (not under an LLC or business entity). You would need to classify this person as a temporary employee.
  2. You want to hire an outside firm to provide a service that no one else at Williams currently provides, such as a highly specialized set or lighting design for a production. You engage an LLC that does this. This would be classified as an independent contractor.
  3. You want to hire someone to read admission essays. This is a solo person who lives in Florida and would perform this work remotely. In this case, you would not be able to engage this person in working for the College unless they work from MA, CT, NY, or VT.

Other Considerations

Country and State where the work is performed

  • To ensure compliance with applicable state labor and taxation laws, anyone classified as an “employee” must perform work within the states of MA, CT, NY, or VT. These are the ONLY states where Williams can legally conduct business. No one may be employed to perform work in states other than these four.


  • Typically paid for internships or academic experiences to cover your living expenses. Paying someone a stipend should be used ONLY in limited and specific circumstances.

Remote/Hybrid Work

If it is determined that the work that will be performed meets the definition of a contract:

Please reach out to the college’s Associate General Counsel, Laura Gura, at [email protected] to ensure you use an appropriate contract. 

Payment Procedures for Williams staff, faculty, and students

Occasionally, employees are engaged in work outside of their primary job function that may require compensation.

Depending on their primary role it may be appropriate to set up a temporary concurrent job or pay a one-time payment.

Generally, employees cannot be paid through accounts payable for services unless they have a separate established business entity.

Permissible example: Maria is a full-time admission counselor but has established an LLC for her photography business. It would be permissible for communications to hire Maria to shoot photos for the magazine. 

Not allowable: Juan works in networks and systems in OIT, and the Biology department would like to hire him to integrate some new technology for their website. While this might not be a typical assignment for Juan, it is closely related to his primary job, and he can not be “hired” by another department. 

Non-exempt/hourly staff

Non-exempt staff are entitled to overtime pay. So even when an individual already has a full-time job on campus, they should be set up in a temporary concurrent job so that any hours over 40 in a week will be paid at time and a half. If the jobs have different pay rates, by law, the employee receives a blended rate of the two.

Exempt/salaried staff

Exempt staff may be hired into a temporary concurrent salaried job, or they may also be compensated in a one-time payment by submitting a request form.

Please contact your HR business partner if you have questions about which option is best.


The same labor laws and guidelines apply to students with very limited services allowed to be paid through accounts payable.

Please contact Janine Burt, student employment manager, with questions about paying students.