Using contractors and subcontractors

Get the most from contractors and subcontractors


Consider how to achieve maximum benefits when using contractors and subcontractors from the point of engagement through to the completion of the contracted work.

Consult your staff

Using a contractor/subcontractor can be successful where there is cooperation and coordination between your own staff and the contractor/subcontractor.

Ensure your staff understands the advantages of using a contractor/subcontractor by setting out any benefits for them, eg they can get on with the core business. Inform and consult your employees.

Exercise care when hiring contractors

Seek references and talk to other businesses that have used contractors to determine a contractor's/subcontractor's competence.

Check qualifications, skills, membership of relevant trade or professional bodies, quality standards, and accreditations of potential contractors.

Find out the contractor's/subcontractor's policies for health and safety, selecting subcontractors, and employee consultation.

If you use contractors/subcontractors on a regular basis, think about setting up a database of contacts who you know and trust.

Have a written agreement for contractors

Agree in writing:

  • the contractor's/subcontractor's responsibilities
  • the objectives, the scope of the work, and key deliverables (goals), eg in a project schedule with milestones
  • resources you must provide if the contractor/subcontractor needs access to your equipment and/or staff
  • fees and a payment schedule - you may wish to consider penalty or incentive schemes for under-performance or over-performance
  • a procedure for resolving disputes, eg review or termination
  • confidentiality agreements

You have certain legal responsibilities when you engage contractors/subcontractors and you should agree on a contract for services that will help you to discharge those duties. You should seek legal advice on this.

See health and safety requirements when using contractors and subcontractors and using contractors and subcontractors: insurance and contracts.

Manage the work of contractors

You should manage and supervise the contractor's/subcontractor's work, seek evidence of work done, and check that contractual obligations are met. Raise any issues at the earliest opportunity so that they can be addressed and resolved from the outset.