Human resources questions: an associate joins the practice as an independent contractor

Dec. 8, 2010
Tim Twigg and Rebecca Crane, both of Bent Ericksen & Associates, offer insight into dental practice arrangements involving an associate joining the practice as an independent contractor.

Q. An associate is joining my practice as an independent contractor. Is there a specific form I should use for that purpose?

A. No specific form is required. Since such relationships are unique in nature (e.g., acquiring ownership in the practice, professional dues, liability/malpractice insurance, retreatment, etc.), they are usually drafted by an attorney. Please be aware that such agreements are usually for "employment" purposes rather than an independent contractor (IC) relationship. The IRS is now conducting its "most significant audit initiative in decades," in an attempt to address what it believes to be a widespread problem of misclassification. If you question whether your associate meets the IRS's IC criteria, you are best advised to consider this individual to be an employee.

The opinions expressed above are based on the writer’s comprehensive background as a human resources professional and the policies in our Bent Ericksen & Associates products having been reviewed by legal counsel. The writer is not an attorney, and the advice provided in this message should not be construed as a legal opinion. If you have legal questions after considering the advice and reading any materials referenced, it is recommended that you consult with your attorney.

Author bio
Tim Twigg is the president of Bent Ericksen & Associates, and Rebecca Crane is a human resource compliance consultant with Bent Ericksen & Associates. For 30 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resource and personnel issues, helping dentists deal successfully with the ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more about its services, call (800) 679-2760 or visit