Can newspapers recruit independent contractors on Monster.com?
Question: Our Circulation Department wants to place an ad on Monster.com in an effort to attract prospective individuals to enter into Independent Contractor Agreements to deliver newspapers. The Monster.com template is not set up to recruit independent contractors. Should I be concerned about using Monster.com or other online job posting sites?
Answer: The text of your ad is critical. The Monster.com website talks about "jobs." You are not posting an ad for a job – these are contracts. On the Monster.com website, where you are asked to enter the "job type," make sure you reference that it is a contract.
I have reviewed some ads from several newspapers on this website. There are lots of problems. Where contact information is listed, one newspaper wrote "Human Resources." I recommend against this. Human Resources handles employees. The contact information should be for the Circulation Department.
Your ad headline and description should definitely use the terms "independent contractor" and "business opportunity." One newspaper ad I viewed on Monster.com referred to the newspaper carrier opportunity as a "job." These are contracts, not jobs.
If you are attempting to attract retirees or stay-at-home moms, refer to it as a "great business opportunity for retirees or stay-at-home moms." Make it clear that full-time services are not required. If you feel it necessary to talk about dollars, draft text that references "potential profits," not guaranteed earnings.
Do not include the standard employment language: "We are an equal opportunity employer." Remember, this is not employment, it is a contract. It is totally conceivable that these digital ads could become evidence in independent contractor litigation. Let's be smart about it and draft independent contractor-friendly language.
Note: Nothing in this SNPA Legal Hotline Q&A should be relied upon as legal advice in any particular matter.
L. Michael Zinser is the founding partner of The Zinser Law Firm in Nashville, Tenn. The firm, which has a heavy concentration of clients in communications media, represents management in the area of labor and employment. Zinser can be reached at (615) 244-9700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SNPA's free Legal Hotline for members – (844) 804-2016 – is designed to assist newspapers with a broad range of legal issues. Hotline attorneys and CPAs will tackle questions about circulation, independent contractors, labor and employment law, taxes, finances and accounting, employment benefits, open records, libel and privacy, and other issues newspapers encounter.
The attorneys and CPAs who will take calls from SNPA member newspapers are the best in the business: The Bussian Law Firm PLLC, Fisher & Phillips, Way, Ray, Shelton & Co., P.C. and The Zinser Law Firm.
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