TN 7 (08-10)

RS 02101.084 Employment Status of Artisans

A. Definition

An artisan is a person trained in a mechanical art or trade. An artisan can attend a vocational school, serve as an apprentice, or work as a repair person or helper to learn the trade informally to acquire the skills necessary for the work. While in the learning stage, artisans receive close supervision and control. After completing training, artisans frequently go into business for themselves.

B. Examples of occupations held by artisans

Most artisans work in the building construction business as bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, painters, paperhangers, plumbers, etc. Many are self-employed and repair, alter, remodel, or construct buildings on a single job basis. Many artisans work for construction contractors and firms in the home improvement business. Others work in factories, hotels, department stores, and other large establishments as maintenance people. In many cases, the artisan alternates between wage employment for contractors and self-employment on small jobs. Artisans outside of the building construction and maintenance fields usually are in business for themselves or are clearly employees of the firms with which they are connected.

C. Employee status of artisans

Usually, an artisan who renders services for someone who normally requires that particular type of service in conducting a business is an employee. This is true because the employer who runs a business that depends, in part, on the artisan’s services must retain the right to control the artisan as to the method and manner to perform the services. Generally, the relationship is continuing and does not exist merely on a single job or "package" basis. The employer hires the artisan to do the work personally and the employer controls any helpers. The artisan usually furnishes hand tools, but the employer supplies all other equipment and materials. The employer establishes the artisan’s work hours. Normally, the artisan’s pay is at an hourly rate and the employer can terminate the artisan for unsatisfactory work. In general, the artisan receives work expectations and little supervision because of his or her experience and skill. The employer does not specify in detail how to do the job, but has the right to do so. The employer also has the right to set or change the order of the services. As an employee, the artisan has no substantial investment in the facilities to do the work and is not in a position to suffer a loss or realize a profit to exercise independent judgment in such matters as hiring helpers, quality of materials, methods of work, etc.

Even though the artisan performs services as an employee, his or her payments are not "wages" if:

  • the services are not in the course of the employer's trade or business; and

  • payment is in a medium other than cash or cash wages paid in a calendar year after 1977 are less than $100.

See RS 01901.520 for details of nonbusiness work, including the amount prior to 1978.

D. Independent contractor status of artisans

An artisan who provides services for someone who does not normally require such services in operating a business is generally an independent contractor. In such a case, the purchaser of the services, because of lack of knowledge of the particular skill required, is not in a position to supervise the services or tell the artisan how to do the work. There is a contract with the artisan to do a certain job that requires the artisan to finish the work to specifications.

As an independent contractor, the artisan is free to decide the work methods. The artisan may do the work personally or hire helpers to do the work. Artisans furnish tools and often have a substantial investment in equipment such as scaffolding, ladders, a car or truck, helpers, equipment, and materials to the job. The contract price for the job may include the cost of materials, or the artisan may order the materials from a local store or lumberyard and bill the cost of expenses to the person requesting the work. The artisan's services are available to the public. Artisans obtain jobs by advertising, bidding, or building such a good reputation that their services are in demand. Quite often, the artisan has two or more jobs in progress at the same time.

The artisan must complete a specific job within a certain time, or he or she may be responsible for damages. The artisan is free to choose the methods and means to obtain the necessary result and has the chance to make a profit by applying energy, skill, and resourcefulness to the work. On the other hand, there may be a loss if the artisan fails to use good judgment to choose and direct helpers, proper materials for the work, or protect the investment in equipment, tools, etc. Work is on a job-to-job basis, and the jobs make up the artisan's independent business.

E. Dual status of artisans

Many artisans, especially carpenters, work under a variety of conditions. For example, a carpenter who does odd jobs may be found to be an employee on one job and an independent contractor on the next.

Do not assume that an artisan is an independent contractor when working for a homeowner and at the same time an employee when w