Independent Contractors

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Independent Contractors

Contingent arrangements, which include use of independent contractors and temporary or part-time workers, are a valuable resource for many business aircraft operators that need additional support from pilots, flight attendants and maintenance professionals, but are not looking to make a long term employment commitment.   These arrangements can provide additional resources while saving the flight department time and reducing overhead costs.

As flight departments seek flexible and cost effective ways to meet their staffing needs, they are increasingly relying on a variety of arrangements using individuals commonly known as “contingent workers” or "independent contractors". The most important step an employer can take is to ensure that the contingent worker is classified correctly as either an independent contractor or an employee.   

If an individual is brought on as an independent contractor, but later found to be an employee, there can be significant negative consequences for the employer. This means that managers must take steps to understand the tax, insurance, and legal ramifications when determining proper classification of utilizing contingent workers.

To help NBAA Members understand the regulatory guidance surrounding use of contingent workers and to develop best practices the NBAA Employment Issues Working Group and Aviation Insurance Committee created this Member resource.

Review the Best Practices for Utilizing Independent Contractors (2.3 MB, PDF)

This publication is available to NBAA Members only. If you're not already a Member, consider joining NBAA today. Learn more by contacting NBAA at (800) FYI-NBAA or Apply today at

Independent Contractor News

Using a Contractor in the Right Seat
Nov. 13, 2017
Single-person aviation operations are not the only ones that employ contract pilots. If a pilot does not want to be alone in the cockpit, they must interview, evaluate and sign up a temporary second-in-command. Get tips for finding a contract pilot for the right seat in the November/December 2017 issue of Business Aviation Insider. Read more about these two DOL changes and how they may affect NBAA Member Companies.
Department of Labor Policy Changes Could Impact Flight Departments
Aug. 14, 2015
The flight departments with some NBAA Member Companies that rely on contract workers could be challenged by a recently released Department of Labor (DOL) agency interpretation (AI) clarifying its policy on the status of contract employees, and calling for an increase in the minimum salary threshold for an employee to be exempt from overtime pay. The AI states that misclassification of employees as independent contractors has been found in an increasing number of workplaces. Read more about these two DOL changes and how they may affect NBAA Member Companies.
IRS Tightens Scrutiny of Worker Misclassification
Aug. 27, 2014
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plans to step up audits of companies for improperly classifying employees as independent contractors, and the agency is promoting its Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) for taxpayers to voluntarily change the classification of their workers. "Participation in the VCSP is essentially an admission to the IRS that you've misclassified workers in exchange for paying a reduced amount in back taxes," said Gregory Ripple, a labor and aviation attorney at Michigan-based law firm Miller Johnson. According to the IRS, if a taxpayer agrees to prospectively treat any misclassified workers as employees, "in exchange the taxpayer will pay 10 percent of the employment tax liability that would have been due on compensation paid to the workers for the most recent tax year." Learn more about the IRS’s VCSP, and download an NBAA resource about utilizing independent contractors.
Contractor or Employee? It Could Be an Expensive Decision
Feb. 13, 2012
As flight operations are often pushed to "do more with less," in the current economic climate, the use of contract labor is on the rise. But, in a remarkably complex environment where there are almost as many different definitions of contract labor as there are governmental entities trying to regulate the practice, a flight operator's failure to properly classify an employee could be costly. Experts discuss the topic on this week's edition of the NBAA Flight Plan podcast, and the subject is discussed in a new NBAA webinar.
California Increases Penalties for Independent Contractor Misclassification
Nov. 4, 2011
The State of California had enacted a new law regarding the classification of employees and independent contractors. Senate Bill 459, also known as the “Worker Classification Bill,” significantly increases the risks and penalties for employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors when, in fact, they should be designated as employees. The bill not only imposes significant financial penalties on employers who are found to have engaged in willful misclassification, but also requires them to post a public notice of their unlawful behavior on their website or at their principal place of business. Learn More.