Are You Onboarding Contractors correctly?

The term ‘contractor’ is often bandied about when describing these four groups of workers:

  • employees on temporary contracts;
  • independent contractors;
  • consultants;
  • workers provided by temporary agencies or labour hire firms

The thing they have in common is that none of these workers have permanent working arrangements. And most will only be engaged with a company for a short period of time before moving on to their next assignment.

So why would a business invest in onboarding a worker that is not going to stick around for very long?

Let me give you 4 really good reasons.

1. Compliance

Not having your paperwork in order or neglecting to educate your contractors in basic legal and policy requirements could land you in hot water with the law – or at the very least in messy disputes with other businesses or workers.

Compliance Paperwork
There are some basic documents, forms and records you should be including in your Contractor Onboarding:

Employees on Temporary Contracts
As employees of your business, staff on temporary contracts will have the same basic paperwork as other employees including:

Employment Contract
Confidentiality Agreement
Tax File Number Declaration Form
Superannuation Standard Choice Form
Fair Work Information Statement
Evidence of qualifications, certifications and licences required
Health declaration and medical information (if required)

Independent contractors
Independent contractors are usually sole traders or small businesses and need a different set of documents to employees. At a minimum, an independent contractor’s paperwork should include:

Commercial contract (not an employment contract) outlining the terms of the engagement
Confidentiality Agreement
Restraint of Trade Agreement
Intellectual Property Agreement
Evidence of insurance cover (eg Professional Indemnity, Public Liability, Workers Compensation)
Evidence of qualifications, certifications and licences required to provide services
Health declaration and medical information (if required)

When you engage contractors from a professional consultancy firm, your business is making a commercial arrangement with that firm – not the individual contractors. Your paperwork in this instance should include:

Scope of work and services to be provided
Consultancy Agreement outlining the terms that govern the relationship
Evidence of insurance cover (eg Professional Indemnity, Public Liability, Workers Compensation)
Evidence of the qualifications, certifications and licences of the contractors deployed by the consulting firm to provide the services
Health declaration and medical information (if required) for the contractors deployed by the consulting firm to provide the services

Workers provided by temp agencies and labour hire firms
A temp is employed by a recruitment agency or labour hire firm – not you, the client. Therefore when using a temp, businesses should make sure the following items are on the compliance checklist:

Recruitment Agency/Labour Hire Terms and Conditions
Evidence of insurance cover (eg Professional Indemnity, Public Liability, Workers Compensation)
Evidence of the qualifications, certifications and licences of the temps provided (where required)
Health declarations and medical information for the temps (where required)

Policies and Procedures
You cannot assume that your contractor understands their rights and responsibilities whilst working with your company. Every worker should be educated in policies and procedures relevant to the industry and situation, particularly where health and safety is at stake.

Many businesses provide awareness training to contractors in key compliance items like:

  • Work Health and Safety (including site inductions, training in manual handling techniques and other safety procedures, licences and certifications required);
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy and Procedures;
  • Prevention of Discrimination, Workplace Bullying and Harassment; and
  • Use of Information and Communication Technology and Social Media

2. Induction Training

Most types of contractors will need to undertake induction training. This is usually provided in the form of training guides, eLearning or classroom based training sessions. Typical examples include:

  • Health and safety
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Site induction training

While a construction worker will undertake similar bullying and harassment training to a financial services consultant, each will have their own very specific induction needs.

In addition to compliance type training appropriate levels of other training should be built into contractor onboarding. Sometimes contractors are hired for their particular expertise (eg consultants) and won’t require training in the technical aspects of how to do their job. In contrast, low skilled or unskilled contractors are going to need a lot of input and direction from their manager in order to be productive.

3. Culture

To hit the ground running, a contractor needs to quickly come to grips with how the business operates (structure and strategy), who they report to, and recognise which stakeholders have a vested interest in the work they have been engaged to complete. Effective onboarding activities can ensure your contractor connects with the right people faster.

Having regular access to their manager and other seasoned employees to discuss and resolve issues along the way will also help the contractor navigate any tricky politics and cultural sensitivities.

4. Performance

Too many contractors are given very little guidance and direction, leaving them to sink or swim. This is time wasting and counterproductive. Setting performance goals and meeting regularly with their manager to specifically address performance will ensure the contractor focuses on the right things and achieves desired outcomes faster.

5. Social

Finally, like any human being, the contractor has a basic need for acceptance and inclusion. Invitations to social events or even offers from co-workers to have lunch or grab a coffee can help a contractor feel part of the team and more engaged in the work they are doing.

Effective onboarding will accelerate your contractor’s progress, and result in better outcomes faster.

But remember, a temporary machine operator filling in for 3 weeks will have very different needs to a Project Manager looking after a multi million dollar IT project over the next 2 years. Be smart about it. Select your priorities carefully and invest your onboarding time and money wisely.


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