Independent Contractors

What is the legal definition of an independent contractor?

“A person or business which performs services for another person or entity under a contract between them, with the terms spelled out such as duties, pay, the amount and type of work and other matters. An independent contractor is distinguished from an employee, who works regularly for an employer.”

  • Individuals who perform services for Miami University are generally considered employees and should be hired following approved search and hiring procedures.  However, there are times when individuals are needed to provide a service that might be categorized as an independent contractor service. 
  • Independent contractors are often used to perform short-term services for the University.

When a department at Miami, or individual within a department, wishes to have someone provide a service and be paid for that service, a determination of the nature of that service must be obtained from the appropriate personnel office either Human Resources or Academic Personnel.

Due to state and federal compliance purposes it is important that the nature of service and provider be classified appropriately prior to the service being performed.

What is the process?

  • Examination of the service
  • Evaluation of the proposed service provider (including vita/resume)
  • Completion of the professional services agreement (including appropriate documents)
  • Request for payment in Buyway

Step 1 Examination of the Service

  • The first step takes place with the completion of a Determination of Service form four weeks prior to the expected date of the service.  The determination decision is based upon multiple factors (including supervision given, location of service, etc.).
  • All service requests must be reviewed. 
  • An approval confirmation email will be sent by Human Resources or Academic Personnel following the review of the service as to whether the service meets Independent Contractor guidelines.

Step 2 Evaluation of the Prospective Service Provider

  • The second step is completing and submitting the Prospective Service Provider form identifying who is providing the specific service. His or her credentials must be reviewed to determine if the specific individual can be classified as an independent contractor. This form will require the prospective provider’s social security number and the attachment of his/her vita/resume. 
  • *Confidential documents should not be attached to this form. The form is encrypted to protect social security numbers, however attachments are not protected.
  • If the name of the selected candidate is known at the same time the Determination of Service is requested, the forms can be submitted at the same time. If the Determination of Service has been finalized by Human Resources or Academic Personnel prior to submitting the Prospective Provider form, the finalized Determination of Service can be printed and submitted with Prospective Provider form.
  • Human Resources or Academic Personnel will provide notification via email as to whether or not the individual can be an independent contractor for Miami.
  • Miami Employees CANNOT be Independent Contractors. Part-time Classified and Unclassified employees may be able to be hired into a secondary position.
  • Students may not be considered independent contractors; they must be employees. Departments who wish to hire undergraduate students and graduate students without a graduate assistantship should contact Student Employment prior to the beginning of the work to set up a student job.  Graduate Assistants must petition the Graduate School for permission to work additional hours, then contact Academic Personnel Services prior to the beginning of the additional assignment.
  • Graduation terminates the student classification. If services are needed beyond graduation the former student will need to be employed following the normal guidelines established by Academic Personnel or Human Resources.

Step 3 Completion of the Professional Service Agreement (PSA)

  • Once it’s been determined that the selected individual and the service meet independent contractor qualifications, the Professional Services Agreement (PSA) must be completed with the approved provider and fully signed. The PSA, a printed and approved Determination of Service form and OPERS form (completed by the provider) must be sent to Human Resources or Academic Personnel for approval via campus mail or delivery. The materials should NOT be sent via email.
  • Human Resources or Academic Personnel will review and return the PSA to the department. 
  • Human Resources or Academic Personnel will submit the required OPERS form to OPERS. 

Step 4 Request for Payment From Accounts Payable

  • The last step in this process is to visit the Accounts Payable website and request payment for the service in Buyway. The W-9 form and a copy of the Professional Services Agreement (PSA) are required to accompany the Buyway request. The OPERS form is not required to request payment.

In the event that the service or the provider may not be designated as an independent contractor and the work will still be performed, you must follow established hiring procedures for your area (either Academic Personnel or Human Resources) BEFORE services are provided. This may include the need to complete new compliance documents related to I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification on the first day of employment or re-employment.

Processing Timeline

Please note that all timelines are No Later Than unless otherwise indicated.

Timeline Task
4 weeks in advance of desired service Department submits Determination of Service Request form via Formstack
10 business days Human Resources or Academic Personnel reviews and responds to request by email
As soon as is known or simultaneously with Determination of Service Request Form Department submits Prospective Provider and authorized Determination of Service form with vita/resume attached.
2 business days Human Resources or Academic Personnel reviews and confirms eligibility by email
In advance, but not later than first day Department submits signed Professional Services Agreement form, completed OPERS form, and resume/vita (by mail or delivery)
2 business days Human Resources or Academic Personnel signs and returns the Professional Services Agreement to be included in information for Buyway
Within 30 days of service start date Submission of OPERS from by Human Resources or Academic Personnel Services
Once service has been provided Department to submit for payment in BuyWay including completed W-9 form and Professional Services Agreement

Information and timelines are subject to change. Please work with the Human Resources or Academic Personnel area for issues/concerns.

Forms with social security numbers should not be sent via email.

Competitive Selection/Bidding Requirements

  1. A competitive bid or selection process is not required for independent contractor engagements of up to $10,000.
  2. Multiple written quotations are required for independent contractor engagements $10,001 and $24,999.
  3. For independent contractor engagements of $25,000 or more quotations and/or proposals will be obtained by the Office of Strategic Procurement through a competitive selection process based on written specifications provided by the requesting department.

Exemptions to Bidding Requirements

The following persons/services typically qualify as an independent contractors and do not need to be bid regardless of the amount of payment:

  • Professional entertainers;
  • Academic guest speaker, artist, or special lecturer;
  • Distinguished guest speakers at University functions;
  • Professional publication manuscript reviewers and editors;
  • Non-recurring seminar and workshop leaders;
  • Personal services paid by external grants (OARS); and
  • Referees.

For more information please visit: Office of Strategic Procurement

Contact Information for Departments

Academic Personnel
Roudebush Hall Suite 3

Human Resources
Roudebush Hall Suite 15

Frequently Asked Questions