There has always been a grey area when it comes to knowing whether your virtual assistant is a contractor to your business, or an employee. While your contract – and theirs – may state that it’s a mutual contracting agreement, some federal and state laws may say differently. It’s all down to the proof you can provide to say otherwise.
Regardless of your contract, it’s important that you treat your virtual assistant’s records in the same way you’d treat the information of your in-house staff. Below, we outline the various important timeframes you must follow to stay within the law.
Record of job acceptance
For many years, discrimination was tolerated in a large number of workplaces. It was commonplace for a potential new employee to not be given a job due to his or her race, gender, religion, sexuality and medical history. It was abhorrent, but it was acceptable. Those days are gone now, thankfully. But in its place are rigorous rules and regulations that make sure discrimination is kept out of the workplace. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean extensive record keeping needs to take place. This includes information kept and recorded for those holding virtual staffing positions.
Regardless of whether they are technically a contractor or an employee, an employer needs to save their resume, interview notes, applications and the original job posting. You should also include your notes taken during the interview process – even if they’re handwritten. This information must be kept for one year after the official acceptance of the job.
Why is it relevant? Why does an employer need to take up valuable hard drive space or file cabinet drawers with seemingly unnecessary information? While it may seem unnecessary, it can save a substantial amount of hassle should your ethos be pulled into question at any point.
Have you got a potential disgruntled past employee? What about others who applied for the job but didn’t get it and thought they should have? You were looking for a virtual staffing solution, and you hired the right person but not everyone may agree.
All these information can help you prove you did not discriminate in any way when you chose the virtual assistant for your job vacancy. It’s all about demonstrating compliance, and you can do this by keeping an organised timeline of events, leading up to the eventual hiring of your staff member or contractor.
Payroll would have to be one of the most contested parts of any business, and results in the most disgruntled employees out of any workplace issue. That is why any employer using virtual staffing services should keep every single part of employment history for all staff. Whether they worked for you for three months or three years, this information should be kept for a minimum of five years after that employee has ceased their services or employment with the business. It doesn’t matter whether they left in their own accord, or you terminated their employment; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
So what do you need to keep? Everything. If your operating practices were brought into question, you want to make sure you have all information needed for a thorough review.
- How much that employee was paid
- How many hours they worked per week
- How you calculated their pay
- Their pay type (salary, wages, overtime, hourly)
All these information are relevant for working out holiday and medical leaves, as well as any tax or employee disputes.
While your virtual assistant might be seen as a contractor, in the eyes of the law, they might be seen as an employee. The key is to know the difference and act accordingly. As a result, it pays to keep a track of leave requests. At some point, your virtual assistant may request time off. Whether you believe they are entitled to employee’s leave is entirely up to your contract with them.
But if they are entitled and they request leave, you need to make sure you have an adequate paper trail. Keep a track of the time they requested off, how much that amounts to in monetary terms, and the dates of the request.
It may not be relevant, but keep the information handy just in case your credibility – or the contract – is ever in doubt.
Pension and benefits
While it’s not common for a virtual assistant to be entitled to a pension or benefits, it has been known to happen. This is especially true in the case of virtual assistants who work within your local area. You must keep all pension and benefit information for a minimum of six years. This is because the information becomes vital in any court cases if you’re sued by a staff member claiming they are owed more than what they received. You must prove, without a doubt, that you’ve done everything you can as an employer to provide your virtual assistants and staff with everything they are entitled to.
The rules may vary from one state to the next, but wherever federal or state law differs, you should ensure you keep the records for the number of years that’s higher. The last thing you want to do is remove vital documents before the time limit and end up needing them at a moment’s notice. In most cases, however, paper filing has taken a backseat, and it’s much easier to keep digital files without taking up too much space.
Virtual assistant services can often be a tricky area to identify. Often, virtual assistants are located out of sight and out of mind. They may even be located out of the country. This can make your legal requirements a little harder to understand. When in doubt, contact a lawyer to find out your rights and your potential new virtual assistant’s. Are you an employer of virtual assistants? Do you keep their records? We’d love to hear what you have to say on the matter.