Mini-Series Topic #2: Business Basics

This month we present some information from our SD 102 course on business basics. One of the most common errors that a small business, either for profit or non-profit makes is to misclassify employees.  This is often an innocent mistake made by novice business owners who reason that the worker only provides services for a very limited # of hours per week and therefore can be classified as an independent contractor.  Innocent or not, this can have significant and adverse consequences.

Classifying Employees

The IRS has developed a 20 factor test, also referred to as the Common Law Test, this rule is applied by the IRS to determine if a business has properly classified their employees, and is therefore current on payment of employment taxes.

This test looks at the relationship between the business and employee on three levels:

  • behavioral control
  • financial control
  • relationship between the parties

Based on these factors, the IRS has set standards that determine which employees may be classified as independent contractors, and which may not. Among the 20 factors listed are:

  • If the worker is expected to personally perform the services, and are not permitted to delegate to employees working under them they are an employee.
  • If the worker receives training by your business and is required to adhere to your policies, they are an employee.
  • If your business sets the hours and locations for work, then the worker is an employee.
  • If you require the worker to perform tasks in a particular sequence or prepare reports, then the worker is an employee.
  • If you supply tools for the worker, then they are an employee
  • If you reserve the right to fire the worker without incurring any liability, they are an employee
  • If the worker provides services for you on a regular and consistent basis, they are an employee.

Case studies

  • Mr. A is hired as an independent contractor by your business.  He is expected to show up at your facility each Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and work until 5 p.m.   He must follow your policies and procedures, and is assigned a supervisor.  Materials for use in training are supplied by your company.
  • Mr. X is hired as an independent contractor by your business.  He is a per diem worker, and has been hired to perform re-certification tests as needed for teams who were originally certified by you.  He works sporadically, and has the freedom to contact clients to set up a time and location that is mutually convenient.  He supplies his own equipment for testing.

Under the IRS 20 factor test, Mr. A must be paid as an employee, while Mr. X may be paid as  an independent contractor.

Under federal law, all new hires must be reported to the New Hire Reporting Center in your state.  You may be required to use  E-Verify prior to hire. Some states have specific laws that require employers in the state to use E-Verify. This is currently the case in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah (for employers with 15 or more employees). Louisiana and Tennessee require E-Verify unless an additional, alternate verification step is completed as outlined under state law. Other states have the E-Verify requirement limited to contractors or public employers. However, the list of states seems to be growing, and there is legislation pending in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives that may mandate E-Verify for all employers (depending on size). Stay abreast of local laws and always consult a legal or accounting professional for advice when any questions exist.

Further information on payroll and a wide range of other topics that pertain to the establishment and maintenance of a business can be found in our SD 102: Business Basics course.  This course is strongly recommended for all business owners who lack formal business management training.

Classroom News

CB8 Class – with the Public Appropriateness Test on the horizon the teams have been hard at work to master the final skills needed to demonstrate success.  As a part of this process the class has been taking field trips, and this past month they visited the Deer Valley Airport so that the dogs could be introduced to the sights and sounds of an airport.  While there, the teams practiced performance of skills amidst the distractions of new sounds and people.  Learning how to work in public with distractions is a vital part of the training process.  A special commendation this month to Lindsey Carlson for her outstanding teamwork as well as her always positive attitude and willingness to help others.  Lindsey is training her SDIT “Bentley” for wounded military veteran Brian Brown.  Kudos also to Brianna Espinosa and Hamilton for their mastery of retrieving items, as well as LeAnn Springer and Vader for their improvements in loose leash walking and heel.

CB9 Class – the beginner class is off to a fine start, and the teams are at work to conquer potty training and work on basic commands such as “sit”, “down” and “stay”.  This part of the training we refer to as “Puppy Kindergarten”.  We are encouraged by the progress of these teams and are able to witness progress on a weekly basis.  Four paws up this month to students Nicole and Maiden Joy and their SDIT “Dakota” for their work on focus and rear end awareness, Betty Davis and Ernie for their excellent work on maintaining a good heel position, Irmarie and Bruno for their hard work to improve loose leash walking, and to Jessica and Titan for acing their “sit”,”down”and “place” commands.  Keep up the good work!

We wish to extend a very warm welcome to our newest student, disabled military Amber Burton, who served her nation honorably in the US Air Force.  She will be receiving one of our lab puppies once their training is complete.  In the interim, she joins the class to take this opportunity to receive training and work with the dogs on a weekly basis.

SD Trainer Academy

Jr Trainer AVanAsdallWe are pleased to report that at this time all 12 didactic courses have been approved for Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits by the National Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers.  The 12th and final course, SD 403: Train the Trainer was approved for 25 CEU credits this past month.

We are currently working through some additional local and national credentialing processes that will serve to put the FSDS SD Trainer Academy in a league of its own.  We are firmly committed to excellence and believe that there is no such thing as too much credentialing.  Opening up our program to this type of additional scrutiny will allow us to provide an unprecedented degree of assurance of quality to our community.  Stay tuned for exciting news in the months to come.

Congratulations are in order for Academy Intern Amanda Van Asdall, who this month successfully completed all requirements to earn her Junior Trainer Certificate.  Amanda has trained numerous SDs for the FSDS over the years and has awarded her dogs to wounded military and first responders.  Recently she and her own SD “Shadow”also passed the certification test and have now officially become a certified FSDS team.  Amanda is now an upper level student working on her Senior Trainer Certificate, and we expect continued success from her.

Wellness Tip

The cold weather has officially arrived, and in many parts of the nation residents have already experienced their first significant snowfall.  This is a great time to remind everyone of the importance of providing your dog with protective footwear.

If you would not go outdoors barefoot during the winter months, you should not send your dog out without footwear!

There are several brands of footwear marketed for dogs online.  Some of the more reputable brands include Muttluks and Ruffwear.  Both companies offer discount purchasing plans for service dogs.  You should ensure that your dog wears their booties whenever they leave the home to work.  We remind all teams that even if snow and cold are not a factor, parking lots often host shards of glass or sharp rocks that can cause injuries to the pads of a dogs paws.  Protective footwear for dogs is not a luxury item, it is a necessity.

With Sincere Thanks

Our thanks go out this month to all of those individuals who have donated to help us provide continued services to the community.

  • Valerie Schluter
  • David Larance
  • AZ Lottery
  • West Valley Golf Cars, LLC
  • DAV Auxiliary Unit 1

A Warm Welcome to Our Family

1277594_557099754345565_1217602995_o-1We wish to extend a warm welcome to Christy Shepherd.  Christy has joined the FSDS family as a Regional Assessor for our Certified Affiliate Program Network.  Her role with our program will be to conduct the on-site program audits for those programs who have successfully completed their requirements for policy and procedure and are nearing the end of their certification process.

Christy is a mother to two young children, and an Air Force wife. She is a professional trainer who has earned her CCPDT-KA, CTDI (Certified Trick Dog Instructor), AKC evaluator, Stunt Dog Judge, and a service dog evaluator with Foundation for Service Dog Support. She loves spending time with her family, and her own pups. She enjoys therapy visits with her dogs, horseback riding, and doing search and rescue training. She has attended Empire State University, and plans to continue her education to obtain her Master’s and/or PsyD in Psychology.  She has recently moved to Colorado and is loving the sunshine!

Photo Gallery

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