TN 6 (04-10)

RS 02101.030 Behavioral Control: Worker Instructions

Citations: IRS Revenue Rulings 68-598 and 66-381

A. Background

Workers are required to abide by their employer’s instructions regarding when, where, and how to accomplish their work. Employer’s instructions for employees might include time frames for completing the job. The instructions may be in the form of manuals or written procedures that show the desired result to accomplish. The control factor is present if the employer has the right to instruct the worker, even though the worker may not need instruction. The right to direct or control how a worker performs by providing instruction is an example of behavioral control. Behavioral control is one of the three primary categories of evidence used to make employer-employee relationship determinations. When examining behavioral control, look for facts that illustrate whether the business has retained the right to direct or control the details of how the worker performs or if he or she has given up that right.

B. Types of worker instructions

The following is a list of instructions that employers may impose on workers:

  • what order or sequence to follow;

  • what routines or patterns to use;

  • what tools or equipment to use;

  • what work must be performed by a specific worker (including ability to hire assistants);

  • where to purchase supplies or services; and

  • when and where to do the work.

C. Degree of worker instruction

The degree of instruction depends on the:

  • effect on the worker in the event of noncompliance, and

  • extent to which the business retains the right to control the worker’s compliance with the instructions.


An indicator of employee status is when the business keeps control over the manner and means of work performance.

An indicator of independent contractor status is when the business maintains control over a particular product or service and does not control the manner or means of delivering that product or service.

D. Reference

Social Security Handbook, Chapter 804: Are you required to follow instructions at work?

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RS 02101.030 - Behavioral Control: Worker Instructions - 04/23/2010
Batch run: 07/03/2014