Many times organizations will face challenges for which they are not prepared. Perhaps they don’t have the skill set in-house to complete an assignment. Current employees aren’t trained to effectively execute a specific directive. Maybe it’s just a matter of pure manpower. There aren’t enough associates to physically complete the task. This creates a need for organizations to develop flexible staffing models in order to react quickly to new challenges.
Organizations can sometimes make do with existing resources. They can train current employees, which can be both time-consuming and expensive. They can hire a new full-time employee that specializes in whatever skill set they seek. However, hiring a full-time employee for a short assignment doesn’t make sense for the organization in the long run. If they are looking to bridge a brief gap in skill sets for a finite amount of time, then organizations will often hire independent contractors.
The Galactic Empire faced a great challenge after the escape of the Rebel vessel, the Millennium Falcon. Site manager Darth Vader attempted, on numerous occasions, to capture Han Solo & Princess Leia (et al) with little success. This was not an issue of manpower or resources. The Galactic Empire had a massive fleet of starships, a moon-sized “Death Star”, and approximately 17 billion cloned “Storm Troopers.” After doing a gap analysis, in which management defined the skills needed for a future project and the skills that the organization had at the time, Mr. Vader decided that the Empire required outside assistance. They needed someone who could operate outside the rigid framework of Imperial job descriptions, someone with a certain array of special weapons and tracking devices that could assist them in achieving the objective of capturing the Rebel figure heads.
Mr. Vader contacted his Head of Human Resources, Balton VanRhssk, who recommend they farm out the function of recruiting of a bounty hunter to Jabba the Hut, an amorphous blob from the planet Tattooine. Jabba recommended a number of reputable bounty hunters: I-88, Bossk, Dengar and Boba Fett. All of these qualified applicants were brought in for a “group interview” with Mr. Vader. After their interview was complete and it was verified that their B23-1-14 Imperial Peace Keeping Permit was in good standing, Mr. Vader selected Boba Fett as the most qualified applicant for the assignment.
The question facing Mr. Vader and Mr. VanRhssk was how to categorize Boba Fett’s employment status with the Empire? Ideally, they would prefer to categorize Boba Fett as an independent contractor, alleviating the Empire’s responsibility to pay certain taxes and health benefits. Given the dangerous nature of a Bounty Hunter’s work, it was doubtful that the Empire would want to be liable for any catastrophic injury that might befall Boba Fett during his assignment.
Independent Contractors are self-employed individuals hired on a contract basis for short-term, specialty assignments. They usually have a high amount of discretion in the manner in which they go about completing their assignment. There are a number of widely accepted criteria that help determine if a worker is an Independent Contractor or an employee.
1) If the worker supplies his or her own equipment, materials and tools.
- The Empire did not initially provide any equipment to Boba Fett. He came readily equipped with his own blaster, Mandalorian body armor, and starship (Slave I). However, later in employment the Empire did provide Boba with the use of a Carbonite freezing chamber to complete his work.
2) If the worker can be discharged at any time.
- The hiring of Boba Fett was intended to act only as a supplement to the Empire’s initiative to capture Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. Therefore, on the off-chance that Imperial Stormtroopers would capture them during the course of normal operations, the objective would be completed and Boba Fett’s employment would be summarily terminated.
3) If the worker controls the hours of employment.
- Boba Fett was given the autonomy to work as he saw fit. He was not required by Mr. Vader to report to work at any certain time, nor was he required to clock in or out, nor otherwise document his work time.
4) Does the employee solely rely on the employer for a steady income?
- The Empire was not Boba’s only source of income. He had several other active death-contracts at the time with Jabba the Hutt.
In this case Mr. Vader and Mr. VanRhssk correctly categorized Boba Fett as an independent contractor and not an employee of the Empire. This turned out to be an important decision later on. During the staged execution of Han Solo, Boba was knocked into a Sarlaac Pit and injured. Boba attempted to sue the Empire for medical benefits after he escaped, claiming he was technically an employee, but a Circuit Court Judge threw the case out based on lack of merit. The Empire’s lawyers were able to provide an adequate defense that Boba met all the conditions required by law to be considered an independent contractor and not an employee of the Empire.