Being a yoga teacher can be a very beneficial career path, and it offers a lot of flexibility—literally and figuratively. Many yoga studios hire instructors as “independent contractors” so if you’re a yoga teacher, it’s important to understand what that means for you and how that classification differs from being hired as an employee. If you’re a yoga studio owner, you should ensure you’re fully versed on the difference in employment classifications, and that you have an independent contractor agreement in place as part of your yoga studio best practices.
Why Does an Independent Contractor Agreement Matter?
Whether you run a yoga studio, or you’re a yoga teacher, the importance of an independent contractor agreement cannot be understated as it benefits both parties by preventing miscommunication, misunderstanding and the potential for liabilities or damages.
While yoga is a profession largely based on trust, an independent contractor agreement helps keep integrity and clear communication at the forefront of business relationships to make sure all parties are on the same page. For legal purposes, it also provides written documentation of your agreement, clarifies the responsibilities of all parties involved, and provides protection for both yourself and your business.
What Should an Independent Contractor Agreement Include?
While every business is different, below are some key sections that most independent contractor agreements should include (the below are mere suggestions—please be sure to contact your own legal representation on your specific case):
- Nature of the Relationship: This section should explicitly state the terms of your employment and expressly declare you are hired as an independent contractor and not an employee. This is especially important as it relates to how taxes will be paid and filed.
- Yoga Instructor Responsibilities: This section should information about what professional standards are expected, the types of yoga that will be taught, scheduling information, administrative responsibilities, as well as including the location(s) where you will be teaching.
- Payment Methods & Schedule: This section should outline how and when you will be compensated for your services. It should also clarify if you will be paid a base rate or paid per student, whether there is a minimum or maximum payment per class, when the pay periods will be, and address any other questions related to payment for services.
- Yoga Instructor Obligations: When you’re hired as an independent contractor, you’re required to invest in yourself and responsible for covering certain costs (which can later be listed as deductions when filing taxes). This section should outline what you are expected to cover, for example: transportation costs, professional fees, liability insurance, and personal supplies.
- Studio Obligations: This section should outline what the yoga studio is responsible for providing, or assuming the cost of. This may include things like cleanliness standards, space and props available to all instructors, and proof of building insurance.
- Default & Termination Details: While the severance of a business relationship is never fun to think about (or to deal with, for that matter), this is one of the most important sections of the independent contractor agreement. This section should clarify how, under what terms, and with how much notice is required of either party to terminate the working agreement.
- Non-compete Clause: If you’re a yoga teacher who teaches at multiple studios, this is a section you’ll want to pay close attention to. Make sure you fully understand what the agreement includes before you sign anything, as a non-compete clause could have dire consequences if you plan to teach at multiple locations.
Summing It Up
An independent contractor agreement is a vital tool needed to protect both the yoga studio owner and the yoga teacher. Once both parties are on the same page and the independent contractor agreement is signed, business can be conducted with confidence and clarity.