You may not be aware of whether you are classified as an independent contractor or an employee by your employer. You may not care or you may think it doesn’t matter. However, how you are classified can make a big difference. Recently, a California employer that employed truck drivers was found to have violated the law by forcing its employees to sign agreements that labeled them as independent contractors. As a result, the employees were not eligible for overtime or other benefits that would be due to actual employees.

In determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee, it’s important to look at the circumstances surrounding the employment. Is the individual in charge of how he or she does the job or is the company in control? What is the individual’s schedule like (i.e., a set schedule or not)? Who provides the tools, uniforms, supplies, and pays for expenses involved with the job? Is the employment for a particular length of time or is it ongoing? How is the worker paid? Where is the work performed?

All those factors, plus more, determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Businesses virtually always would prefer to classify a worker as an independent contractor over an employee, because generally independent contractors are cheaper and there is less liability associated with the actions of an independent contractor. In addition, it’s easier to hire and fire independent contractors than it is employees, and there is little risk of liability associated with the termination.

Unfortunately, some employers will improperly classify their employees as independent contractors to skirt some laws, which could have a negative impact on the employees. If employers do improperly classify employees, they must reimburse them for wages owed, pay back taxes including federal, state, Social Security, Medicare and unemployment, provide employee benefits, and pay workers’ compensation benefits.

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes all employers should be required to follow the law in their employment practices. If you believe that you were improperly classified as an independent contractor when you were actually an employee, call Micha Star Liberty, employment attorney. She works with clients in Oakland, Tracy, San Francisco, Fairfield and the surrounding areas. Call today at 415-896-1000.


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