The difference between employee and an independent contractor might not matter initially. However, if you are injured at work, that distinction would matter a great deal.
An employee is eligible for workers’ compensation coverage. However, an independent contractor is not. Therefore, if you are a contractor and injured on the job, you may not receive insurance benefits like an employee. Furthermore, if your employer argues you are not an employee, you could be denied much-needed benefits.
To avoid this, learn the differences between contractor and employee, and clarify the title with your employer.
Independent Contractors are Not Covered
As an independent contractor, employers are not required by state or federal law to cover you for workers’ compensation. Sadly, some employers misclassify their workers as independent contractors – even when they are actually employees.
If you suspect you are misclassified, or you have been injured on the job, speak with an attorney to explore your options immediately.
Employee versus Independent Contractor – How Do You Tell?
To tell whether a worker is an employee or contractor, the courts would consider the following factors:
- Is there direction and control? An independent contractor is there to offer his or her services to the company or individual. However, that company using the contractor does not direct or control the services, hours, or work issued by the contractor. Typically, the contractor bills the company for services; and does not receive a paycheck.
- Does the worker receive wages or paid by the job? Workers that are paid by the job are independent contractors, while employees are interviewed, hired, then receive a set payment per hour or salary.
- Did the employer provide equipment? Usually, an independent contractor is responsible for supplying their own materials and equipment. While the employer might supply some materials, the burden falls on the independent contractor and this can include the costs of the materials in his or her bill to the employer. An employee, however, receives materials and equipment as part of the job.
- Is the worker trained or does the worker receive regular work? Independent contractors are brought in temporarily to fill a gap. While some contractors work long-term for a client, they do not receive regular work, set hours, or receive in-house training to complete their job like an employee would.
- Is there a written agreement specifying the relationship? Note, that a written agreement does not automatically mean a worker is classified as one of the other. However, a written agreement can help resolve any disputes when the above four criteria are contested. If the written agreement states that the worker is an independent contractor and will not receive benefits, it is hard to say otherwise in court.
Need Assistance with Workers’ Compensation? Contact an Attorney
If you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, speak with an attorney. Regardless of your classification, it is important that an attorney reviews your case to determine if you qualify for workers’ compensation or not.
The state’s workers’ compensation board will consider these factors when classifying a worker as “employee” or “contractor” too. Therefore, having an attorney there to fight for the proper classification is imperative.