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I'm working remotely for a US company as an independent contractor. I'm in Latin America, non-US citizen. I've worked for almost 2 months part-time. They said they will be making me full time after 2 months.

Besides a fixed work schedule, should I expect something else from a full-time job?

As I understand, an independent contractor cannot have:

  • a work schedule set up by the company
  • supervision
  • reporting on tasks or metrics

This is not the case for an employer-employee relationship.

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    To clarify, will you be a full-time employee, or will you still be a contractor, just working full-time hours? – David K Jan 25 at 14:59
  • thanks! yes I should ask for a clarification, they just mentioned that they will be making me "full-time". Actually I do not want to increase my hours, so if "full-time" doesn't entail anything else than working more hours, I'll prefer to keep working part time as a contractor. – Juan Carlos Jan 25 at 15:37
  • Also, as I understand, being full time implies that I will be no more an independent contractor, because they are asking me to comply with a minimum number of hours worked – Juan Carlos Jan 25 at 15:50
  • "Actually I do not want to increase my hours" !!!!!!! ok this is all very simple. you absolutely DO NOT want to be "on salary" in your situation. – Fattie Jan 25 at 16:06
  • @JuanCarlos "Full-time" definitely means that you would be working a full 40-hour work week (or whatever is standard in your region), including with more pay. It may also mean that you would be an employee with the added benefits, but you could still stay a contractor and be full-time. – David K Jan 25 at 19:56
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In the US, "full-time" means "consistently 40 hours (or more) per week". That's what it means. It's entirely separate from whether you are a contractor or a standard employee. There are a few laws on the books about giving certain minimum benefits to employees who work full-time rather than part-time, but those don't apply to independent contractors, and many of them may not apply to foreign employees working remotely. "Full-time" and "employee" both make you more likely to have a fixed or semi-fixed schedule with specific hours, but it is possible to have full-time employees with highly flexible hours (as long as it's 40 or more hours per week) and part-time contractors that work at very specific times.

If they're offering to bring you in full-time, that means that they like your work, and they want to buy more of it. The offer itself may come bundled with other things (in particular, additional supervision is pretty likely), but that's what it means on the face of it.

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What is the difference between Full-Time and Independent Contractor?

Ask the company what differences there will be. Everyone here is just guessing on incomplete information.

You also have some faulty information.

A contractor can have fixed hours, many do if they're on call or service type jobs. Eg you could be doing helpdesk between certain hours.

Supervision is a matter of perspective, I supervise my remote workers quietly in the background because I have deeper access to the systems they work on.

Contractors do report on tasks.

  • Thanks, but I still think that my information is not faulty irs.gov/newsroom/… – Juan Carlos Jan 26 at 21:20
  • If you start believing govt you're in big trouble ;) But I have a decade+ as a consultant/contractor..and as an employer of them.... might be different in your locale I guess. – Kilisi Jan 26 at 21:34
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The question asked was,

Besides a fixed work schedule, should I expect something else from a full-time job?

There are many differences between working as a direct employee versus working as a contractor - although, in terms of your day-to-day experience, you may not often notice or even be aware of the differences - and some of them may apply (or not) depending on your circumstances. Many of them can be significant when tax time comes, or if you need to deal with unusual circumstances (injury from an accident, becoming unemployed, dealing with a sick immediate relative, etc).

In terms of work management or supervision, there likely won't be much of a difference. Regardless of whether you're an employee or a contractor, the company still has rights to "supervise" your work - assign tasks, monitor quality, specify processes and procedures, etc. The same goes for hours worked (specifying whether they expect you to be "full time" for 40 hours a week, or part time, allowing overtime, etc).

Your standing with the government from a tax perspective is one of the most obvious and commonly referenced differences. If you're an employee, your employer will make income tax contributions on your behalf and report them on a W2. If you're a contractor, that won't happen, and depending on the type of contractual relationship, the burden of determining and paying taxes basically lies with you, or your staffing agency, if there is one. But in short, you do not appear on the company's direct payroll, from a tax perspective.

The other major difference is in terms of benefits provided to employees but not to contractors. Some of these benefits are required by law in the US, although the details of what is required vary from state to state and based on company size. Typically though, direct employees receive benefits such as:

  • Disability insurance, which pays you if you're disabled
  • Social security contributions on your behalf, which provides you with income potential once you've retired or other events have happened,
  • FMLA (family medical leave), which requires the employer to allow you time off to care for a sick relative under certain conditions,
  • Unemployment insurance which provides you the ability to claim unemployment benefits from the government if you're unemployed under certain conditions,
  • Healthcare according to the ACA, which may take the form of an employer-provided health insurance plan or options for you to buy reduced-cost individual insurance though a marketplace.

In addition, direct employees typically receive other benefits that aren't required by law, including:

  • Paid time off when you're sick or want a vacation,
  • Contributions to a retirement plan such as a 401k,
  • Access to an Employee Assistance Plan which can help with basic legal, emotional, relationship, or other personal needs,
  • Access to healthcare insurance or other healthcare programs beyond the minimum required by law - most employers provide health insurance that covers more than the minimum required, or additional plan types. For instance, they may offer an optional FSA or HSA, or vision and dental plans beyond the minimum required
  • Other benefit plans - some employers offer tax-free parking or commute benefits, tax-free childcare plans, or other benefits that are paid for and not taxed out of the employee's reported income.

Generally, employers use contractors when they don't want to foot the bill for these benefits or incur the overhead. Or, they use contractors under the perception that there's more flexibility, since contractors can generally be found or let go "more easily" than full time employees.

As an additional note, my answer focuses on the differences between contracting and direct employment in the broad sense - if you're interested in specifics relevant to your exact employer and your exact citizenship or other personal standing, it's probably best to seek those answers from your employer or from an immigration attorney, tax professional, or other official source.

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    "Social security contributions on your behalf, which provides you with income potential once you've retired or other events have happened," Utterly incorrect. If you are not a US resident you do not get that benefit. – Fattie Jan 25 at 16:04
  • "some employers offer tax-free parking or commute benefits" it is, let us say, "highly unlikely" the OP will be getting "parking benefits" in the situation described in this actual question. – Fattie Jan 25 at 16:06
  • Regarding your first comment - that's why I mentioned it's circumstantial. Regarding your second - perhaps it's unlikely for this particular person, but it's still a benefit provided (tax free) to employees by some employers that is specifically not provided to contractors. – dwizum Jan 25 at 16:07
  • @Fattie There are some countries that have a reciprocal agreement with the US such that the employee would get social security credits in their own country by paying US Social Security taxes. So it is not "utterly incorrect". – Ron Beyer Jan 25 at 16:39
  • Hi @Fattie - I added additional text to my answer to cover the "generic vs specific" difference you're pointing out. I don't think it's as black and white as this answer being "wrong" because it's more general than this person's exact circumstance, and I do think there's value in addressing the general answer since it'll help a broader audience in the future versus simply helping this one unique individual. Also, I don't think it's really appropriate for us to give utterly specific answers since we don't know the full circumstances of this exact individual and employer. – dwizum Jan 25 at 17:12
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This QA has become very confusing.

  1. the OP is not a US person and lives overseas from the US

  2. the OP is a (remote, obviously) freelancer for US company X

It could be that:

"The situation is 1 & 2 above. The company wants to make him a salaried employee rather than a freelancer."

This can be answered in a few words: in the situation of 1 & 2 above never, ever, ever do this.

It is just inconceivable that an overseas remote freelancer would become a salaried employee.

You lose half your money (withholding tax and more) and there are no benefits whatsoever. You would never, ever do this.

This is so basic that it would be pointless discussing it further; google 10,000 discussions about it.

It could be that:

"The company wants him to work more hours each week. He will still, of course, be a freelancer and not a salaried employee."

No problem here. Work as many hours as you wish.

Note that there is no correlation between "being on salary" and "40 hours a week".

It is utterly normal and commonplace that remote overseas freelancers work 40 hours a week.

(If you happen to change from 20 hrs a week to 40 hrs a week, there is no situation whatsoever in which you would then change from freelance to salaried, in the situation of 1 & 2.)

Confusion?

It could be that the OP believes: "If I change to 40 hours a week, I have to change from freelance to salaried." That is utterly, totally incorrect. It is completely normal and commonplace to have remote-overseas freelancers who work full-time.

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    There are a considerable number of benefits (at least in the US) to being a regular salaried employee rather than a freelancer. There is no one stock answer. – David Thornley Jan 31 at 18:18
  • Sigh, I tried to even further emphasize points 1 & 2. (ie ...... "the question asked here - see page title") But it's probably hopeless :) – Fattie Jan 31 at 18:45

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