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5 Tips to Manage Risk When Hiring Freelance and Contract Workers

Simple steps to protect your business, proprietary information and peace of mind

Posted by Timothy Dimoff on May 31st, 2018

Using contract or freelance workers is becoming a popular choice for many businesses. But while it offers great benefits, it also brings an entirely new set of risks for employers.

This growing trend, referred to as the gig economy, includes workers of any age who are either remote or transitory or provide their services as a contractor or freelancer. How you handle the new risks these types of employees bring can mean the difference between success and failure, security or leaks.

The Burgeoning Gig Economy

The freelance workforce is growing more than three times faster than the U.S. workforce overall, according to the annual “Freelancing in America” (FIA) survey by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. The number of U.S. freelancers now stands at 57.3 million, representing an 8.1 per cent jump over the last three years.

Freelancers are also building skills more proactively than their counterparts who are employed by companies. As many 65 per cent of independent workers claimed to be staying on top of career development as jobs and skills evolve, in contrast to 45 per cent of non-freelance workers who are taking similar steps.

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Risks of the Freelance Worker

Issues surrounding transitory or freelance employees include:

  • how your business handles internal and external collaboration
  • document storage and access
  • equipment issues
  • security issues
  • training and development to get them up to speed
  • challenges of remote or short-term workers functioning as part of the whole business

5 Tips to Reduce Risk

If you choose to use freelancers or contract workers, you’ll need to have address the following items to ensure you are not risking your business:

  1. Have very clear policies that cover this type of employee. These policies should outline any and all risks that remote workers may face and include information on how to reduce those risks.
  2. Make sure you have strong security measures for laptops and computers such as full disk encryption, malicious software protection, VPN, firewall, content filtering, strong authentication and authorization measures, patching and monitoring.
  3. Ensure freelance contracts specifically state that all work product belongs to you and cannot be used by them in any other way, pending legal consequences. It is also a good idea to have them sign a non-disclosure contract as well.
  4. When interviewing and hiring, conduct background checks including credit checks, arrest history etc. After all, you are allowing them to have access to your business network, information and more. Make sure they submit detailed logs of time and project progress reports on a timely basis.
  5. When their project is completed, change all passwords they were given, delete their password access from your system, delete their ability to access your premises including any passes, keys or other physical items they may have had, and be sure to let other employees know that their part of the project is completed so they will not be included in any future correspondence, emails, etc.

Taking these simple steps will go a very long way to protecting your business, your proprietary information and providing you peace of mind while enabling you to utilize contract workers.

 

Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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