Independent Contractor? You Could Still Qualify for Compensation
If you are working as an independent contractor, you probably know that you are not covered under workers’ compensation law, as an employee would be. Companies hire independent contractors for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to avoid having to provide the types of benefits they would need to give an employee, such as health care or benefits.
Unfortunately, these reasons induce some employers to look for any possible way to avoid classifying an employee as an employee, choosing instead to classify their workers as independent contractors. This is particularly true when an employee becomes injured, since the company is motivated to avoid paying the workers’ compensation fees associated with an employee.
Classification Under the Law
The good news is that an employer does not have sole discretion over whether they are hiring contractors or employees. Instead this is determined by an official agency, and is based on a number of factors relating to the work done and the methods employed to do it. So even if you are an independent contractor in the eyes of your employer, you may be entitled to compensation for being hurt on the job if some or all of these conditions apply. They include:
- Control. An independent contractor performs the work they are contracted to do. They are not held responsible to any manager or to their employer except as laid out in the terms of the contract, and they are free to perform the work in whatever manner they see fit without the employer’s direct control. If you can show that you are being told exactly what to do and how to do it, you may be classified as an employee.
- Equipment. If the worker brings all their own equipment to the job, it increases the likelihood that the worker is an independent contractor. If the employer provides all the tools and equipment, it is more likely that the worker is an employee.
- Type of Work. When considering a potential worker’s compensation claim, the worker’s comp board will take a look at the type of work the worker was doing. If it is a specialized job and it is the only job the worker has been hired to do, then he or she is probably an independent contractor. If the worker is hired and trained by the employer and receives regular work of varying types, the worker is an employee.
These are not hard and fast rules, but all the same it is easy to see that the line gets blurred quickly between employee and independent contractor status. For legal help contact the Workers’ Compensation Center today (800) 223-1866.
Evan A. Hoffman
Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.Read More