Am I an “independent contractor” or employee?

For most workers, the answer to this question is usually straightforward: “I am an employee.”

However, there are often situations where an employer tells a worker they are an “independent contractor” and therefore not entitled to receive employer’s workers compensation insurance or other employment coverage. Employers do this for one primary reason: they save money.

Employers are often surprised to find out their workers are actually employees and entitled to benefits and workers’ comp coverage. Employers can be penalized and suffer harsh consequences for misclassifying their employees.

If you want to figure out whether you are an employee, ask yourself the following question:

“Do I have primary power and control over what I do at work? Or does the person that is paying me have primary power and control over what I do?”

If the person paying you has primary power and control, then you are most likely an employee.

Here is an example: I have an office and occasionally need upgrades and repairs to my network and computing systems. I hire an outside company to come in and fix the issues. I do not tell them how to do their job. I do not require them to “punch a clock.” I do not provide them with any tools, etc. The workers that come to my office and perform this service are independent contractors. If I had them “clock in” every day, gave them an assignment, set their schedules, and told them how to dress, etc., they would be my employees.

Just because an employer says you are an independent contractor does not make it so. Contact an experienced, competent employment/workers’ comp lawyer to help you if you come across a similar situation or need advice.

The statements contained herein are for general information purposes only. They are not considered specific legal advice to your situation as Mr. Shoen would need to meet with you individually to ensure client confidentiality and would need additional information not provided in this article. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

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