Difference between Agent Servant and Independent Contractor

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Posted on April 19, 2023

When it comes to hiring individuals to perform work, there are various types of arrangements that can be made. Two common classifications are agent-servant and independent contractor. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are key differences between the two that employers need to understand.


An agent-servant relationship involves an employee who works under the control and direction of the employer. The employer is responsible for providing tools and equipment, and the employee is paid a regular salary or wages. The employee is also eligible for benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

The employer has the right to control the manner in which the employee performs their duties, and the employee is bound by the employer`s rules and regulations. The employer is liable for the employee`s actions while they are performing their duties within the scope of their employment. This means that if the employee harms someone while on the job, the employer can be held responsible.

Independent Contractor

An independent contractor, on the other hand, is a self-employed individual who is hired to perform a specific task or project. The contractor is responsible for providing their own tools and equipment, and they are paid a fee or a percentage of the project`s total cost. They are not eligible for benefits from the employer since they are not considered an employee.

The employer has little or no control over how the independent contractor performs their work. The contractor is free to work for other clients and is not bound by the employer`s rules and regulations. The employer is not liable for the independent contractor`s actions while they are performing their duties, as they are operating as their own business entity.

Key Differences

The main difference between agent-servant and independent contractor is the level of control the employer has over the individual performing the work. In the former case, the employer directs the work of the employee, whereas in the latter, the contractor operates autonomously.

The type of relationship also impacts the liability of the employer. In an agent-servant relationship, the employer is liable for the employee`s actions within the scope of their employment. However, in an independent contractor relationship, the contractor is responsible for their own actions, and the employer is not liable.

Final Thoughts

Understanding the difference between an agent-servant and independent contractor relationship is crucial for businesses of all types. It is important to classify workers correctly to avoid legal and financial repercussions. Employers must also ensure that they provide the appropriate benefits and protection for their employees and independent contractors. By doing so, businesses can operate smoothly and avoid any legal disputes.