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If your employer misclassifies you as an independent contractor

Contract jobs—also called consultancies—are permeating the job market. More than ever before, job seekers are finding that contract work is the norm—while finding work as an employee is increasingly difficult.

One reason employers often prefer to hire independent contractors over employees is the cost savings to the company. Employers do not have to pay for independent contractors’ benefits—including health coverage, paid time off, overtime pay and workers’ compensation.

If you get injured on the job, and your employer denies you workers’ compensation due to your “independent contractor” status, you may be wondering what exactly qualifies you as a contractor—and not an employee.

It’s a worthwhile question to ask. Some estimates indicate that as much as 30 percent of employers misclassify their workers as independent contractors—when they should actually be employees. This mistake—deliberate or not—effectively denies important worker benefits to millions of Americans nation-wide.

Under Florida law, construction workers are not allowed to be independent contractors. Outside of this industry, independent contractor status is determined based on indicators in the worker-employer relationship:

  • Direction: Independent contractors tend to have more independence than employees. They dictate how and when their work will be done. In an employee relationship, an employer has more control over a project and can supervise its operation.
  • Location: Independent contractors may work in a location separate from the employer’s company, while employees usually work on-site.
  • Equipment and materials: An independent contractor usually has their own work facility and is responsible for providing all of the equipment and materials necessary for doing their work.
  • Duration of employment: An independent contractor’s work is typically temporary. A more continuous collaboration is indicative of an employee relationship.
  • Payment: Independent contractors are typically paid a flat fee per project, while employees normally receive an hourly wage or a salary.
  • Skills: Independent contractors are typically hired for their unique skill set or area of expertise. Employees, on the other hand, may receive company-provided training in relevant skills.

Your employer may call you a contractor—and your title may even appear this way in your work contract—but this alone is insufficient to classify you as such. If you have suffered a workplace injury, and you believe your employer has wrongly classified you as an independent contractor, it’s worth consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney to understand your rights and recourse.

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