Accounts Payable

The mission of the Accounts Payable Department is to provide professional, courteous service to the campus community in the processing of payments to ensure that goods and services rendered to the College by external vendors and service providers, as well as reimbursements made to school employees and students are paid in a timely, accurate manner and in compliance with the requirements established by Federal regulations, State laws and RISD policies and procedures.

Independent Contractor

The classification of an individual worker as either an independent contractor or an employee is not a matter of choice; rather, it is determined by a set of legal criteria applied to the specific facts of the relationship between the worker and the employer. Under the law, workers who provide services generally are presumed to be employees, unless clearly established criteria are met.

The consequences of misclassifying an individual worker as an independent contractor when the individual should legally be classified as an employee can be severe, including significant financial damages and penalties, harm to RISD's reputation, and possible individual liability. Likewise, misclassification may preclude the individual from protections and benefits (e.g. Worker’s Compensation) afforded by employment and may subject the individual to additional financial responsibilities.

When engaging the services of an individual worker, the following three principal criteria must all be present to classify the individual as an independent contractor:

  • Freedom from control: in general, the individual worker, and not the employer, determines the means and methods of achieving the desired result, and often the timing and location of the performance of the work, and provides and uses his or her own tools and materials
  • Work outside the usual scope of the employer's business:in general, the nature of the work performed is not something usually performed by the employer’s regular employees
  • Independent trade, occupation, or business:in general, the individual worker has an established business, offers his or her services to the general public, and has multiple client

Independent Contractor: Determining Payment Process

To assure compliance, RISD has implemented the following process for determining whether it is appropriate to retain and pay an individual worker as an independent contractor rather than as an employee, using the following forms. The full process must be completed before the individual is formally retained and begins to perform services.

1. Checklist for Determination of Independent Contractor Completed by the Hiring Department/Division
2. Independent Contractor Form Completed by the Individual Worker
3. Purchase Order
Issued by the Procurement Office
4. W-9
Completed by the Individual Worker
5. RI Notice of Designation as Independent Contractor
If applicable, completed by the Individual Worker
  • The hiring manager/department sends the individual providing services the Independent Contractor Form to complete. Concurrently, the hiring manager/department completes the Checklist for Determination of Independent Contractor Status.
  • The hiring manager/department sends the completed checklist and completed Independent Contractor form, including a description of the services that will be performed, to Human Resources.
  • Human Resources completes Part III, Section II of the Independent Contractor form, consulting with the hiring manager/department for additional information as needed, and evaluates status as employee.
  • HR may:
    • Engage Procurement for a second opinion
    • Confirm independent contractor status, sign form, forward to Procurement, copying Hiring department
    • Determine employee status – Complete form and discuss employment options with Hiring department
    Individual workers who meet the designation of Independent Contractor must complete the RI Notice of Designation as Independent Contractor form when payment will exceed $5,000 and the length of service will be 30 continuous days or more.

Independent Contractor Exceptions

Even when an individual does not pass the test, there are still a few exceptions where the individual may be an Independent Contractor; the following are noted exceptions when they are used on a limited basis:

When hiring:

  • Speakers for a fee
  • Honoraria
  • Musicians, singers, dancers, DJ’s comedians, clowns and other similar entertainment


Definition: Guest/visiting critics; guest/visiting lecturers; guest/visiting artists/designers/scholars who give public addresses, perform, demonstrate techniques/materials/processes, lead intensive workshops or interpreters for any of the aforementioned categories may be paid an honorarium for services which are related to or enhancements of curricula (College), co-curricular (CSI), or provide cultural programming for the college community or general public (Museum of Art).

Honoraria Payment Process

  1. A domestic guest/visiting artist/designer/scholar/performer completes W9.
  2. Department submits Honorarium Payment Form and W9 to Accounts Payable and certifies that performance of services fall within the above definition of an honoraria.

For payments to foreign nationals, read how to prepare for hosting an international visitor and what steps you need to follow when your visitor is on campus.

Performer Payment Process

For musicians, singers, dancers, etc. contracts are required for performers in this category. For more information, contact the Procurement Office.