A Virtual Assistant is an Independent Contractor, not an Employee
A recent article, Get Organized by Hiring a Virtual Assistant, published by Dunn and Bradstreet, showcases how working with a professional virtual assistant can help bring organization, focus, and stability to a growing business.
While the article does a good job of explaining the overall concept of working with a VA and even points out the advantages of working with an independent contractor as opposed to an employee, citing “there is no need to pay for health insurance, FICA taxes, computer hardware, rent, or anything else necessary to do the job” several other points in the article are misleading and could actually serve to confuse the role of a virtual assistant as a contractor, not an employee.
In a paragraph discussing the options for and process of locating a professional virtual assistant the author states that many websites “have a database that contain numerous prospective employees and provide registries of qualified professionals.” While professional virtual assistants are most definitely ‘qualified‘ they are not, under any circumstance, ‘prospective employees’.
This kind of language is dangerous for both the client and the virtual assistant for a myriad of reasons including the most obvious legal and tax-related implications – if you treat your virtual assistant as an employee by specifying when and how work must be done the IRS can legally penalize you and your VA come tax time. But perhaps equally important is to recognize the way this misperception of a virtual assistant as an employee can impact the working relationship in a negative way. While it can be difficult for some clients (and even some virtual assistants) to break free of the ’employer/employee’ mindset, it is crucial to the success of both.