Independent Contractors/Consultants

Background and Definitions

These guidelines provide management direction for the engagement of independent contractors/consultants.

Independent Contractor/Consultant

An independent contractor/consultant is an individual or organization, not affiliated with the University, providing primarily professional services or technical advice under a written agreement or engagement letter. Such a relationship is distinct from an employment relationship.

Employee Relationship

An employee relationship exists when the employer has the right (whether or not it exercises the right) to supervise and control the manner of performance as well as the results of the service by the individual (employee). When such a relationship exists, the individual will be employed under the formal employment process.

Employees of the University cannot act as independent contractors/consultants when performing services for sponsored projects.

Management Policy

  • The services of a consultant may be secured when a determination has been made by the Project Director that the services are required because of urgent, special, temporary, or highly technical circumstances which cannot be handled by existing University staff during the course of their normal responsibilities and duties.
  • The use of independent contractor/consultant services is expected to be temporary and infrequent.
  • Independent contractor/consultant services shall not be used to carry out a major portion of a program. Individuals responsible for directing a program or participating extensively in the administration of a program shall be employed through the formal employment process.
  • The services of an independent contractor/consultant shall not entitle the person to a standing other than as an "independent contractor/consultant" in any published report or document.
  • Independent contractor/consultant services entered into pursuant to sponsored contracts or grants shall conform to all provisions of the applicable contract or grant, both with respect to the propriety of the consultant relationship and the terms of that relationship.
  • The independent contractor/consultant agrees to perform all services on a "works for hire" basis.
  • All independent contractor/consultant services shall be formalized in a written agreement prior to the beginning of any service covered by the engagement.


When the services of an independent contractor/consultant are required:

  • The Project Director completes an Independent Contractor Questionnaire and forwards it to the Office of Administration. If the University determines that the position is an independent contractor the Project Director forwards an "Independent Contractor/ Consultant Agreement" to the proposed independent contractor/consultant for review and signature.
  • If the independent contractor/consultant signs the agreement and the Project Director returns the agreement to the Purchasing office with a completed purchase requisition requesting a purchase order be written according to the terms of the Independent Contractor/Consultant Agreement.
  • Sponsored Programs will:
    • Review the proposed Independent Contractor relationship for compliance with University policies and procedures and funding agency regulations (if applicable).
    • Consult as appropriate with the Director of Human Resources on employer-employee relationship issues.
    • Where funding agency approval is required, provide assistance to the project director in obtaining necessary approval(s).
  • Performance and Payment
    • In accordance with the agreed upon payment schedule, the independent contractor/consultant submits an invoice to the Project Director referencing a purchase order number.
    • The Project Director authorizes payment of the invoice based on satisfactory performance.
    • In order to initiate payment, the Project Director submits the invoice to the Accounts Payable Office which reviews the invoice, and if found to be in conformance with the purchase order, issues payment.
    • The last payment request for an independent contractor/consultant agreement will be marked "final" by the Project Director indicating that all work has been completed.