Ethics Hotlines and Independent Contractors

With many of today’s companies exploring new ways to engage employees, the role of the independent contractor has taken center stage. Gig work continues to grow in popularity, both with freelancers as well as for business bottom lines. It can be incredibly cost-effective to outsource work, project by project, and per professional.

If your organization has embraced independent contractors as part of the workforce, you might now be wondering if there are certain ethics vulnerabilities to consider. And even if you take the next step to implement or improve your ethics hotline, you might be wondering if it would be just as effective with contractors as it is with traditional employee types. Here’s what HR leaders should know about ethics hotlines and independent contractors.

Independent Contractors Engage with Your Company Differently

Some companies employ entire departments of independent contractors. Others are including ICs for the first time. Defining the various employee types, your company might embrace a hybrid model with salaried, part-time, or independent contractors. HR professionals understand there are varying guidelines for managing and supporting each. And an independent contractor, who isn’t considered in matters of employment or law to be an actual employee of the company, will abide by different engagement methods. An HR director might define stricter access to company information and assets for them. ICs might not be listed in company directories or be eligible for company benefits. And depending on the work they’re contracted to do, they may have limited access to company databases or product information, as well.

Ethics Hotlines Are Still the First Line of Defense

No matter what your workforce looks like, having an ethics hotline can be a great first line of defense in reducing risks and protecting your company from ethics violations. An ethics hotline is designed to allow anyone within the company to report any missteps. But they can also be great resources for those not working for the organization, as well, including visitors, customers, and vendors. Any appearance of safety, financial, or operational impropriety can be reported anonymously, calling your attention to critical issues before they result in major catastrophes or expensive fines.

Contractors Can Spot Ethics Violations, Too

Independent contractors can have visibility into your company in different ways than traditional employees. And from their outside vantage point, they can spot ethics violations, as well. From fraud and theft of proprietary information to combatting sexual harassment and safety concerns, even your independent contractors can leverage the ethics hotline to raise awareness of unfavorable situations.

If your company has shifted to adopting more independent contractors as contributors, you’ll still potentially encounter ethics risks. And having an ethics hotline can be the best tool at your disposal for those ICs who may need an anonymous and confidential reporting channel for ethics violations. If you have more questions about how ethics hotlines work or are planning to implement a new hotline, let Ethical Advocate be your guide. We can help you set up and introduce your ethics hotline platform to all of your employees, including those independent contractors.