The workplace dynamic has changed for many over recent years, with increased remote options, telecommuting and even downsizing. This might create some confusion about whether you are an employee or an independent contractor. In fact, the line between the two classifications can sometimes seem blurry, but knowing the difference is important for ensuring the protection of your rights.
You may enjoy numerous advantages working as an independent contractor in Florida or DC. Many independent contractors prefer the flexibility of setting their own hours and choosing their assignments. However, there are some benefits to employee status that you might miss out on if your employer wrongly classifies you as an independent contractor.
What’s the difference?
Sometimes employers mistakenly misclassify employees as independent contractors simply because they don’t understand the difference. In other cases, an employer will intentionally classify an employee as a contractor to avoid paying certain taxes, unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance. If you are an employee, you also have the right to a legal wage and overtime pay according to federal laws. You are probably an employee, not a contractor, if the following are true:
- You are on your employer’s payroll and receive a regular paycheck based on your hours or salary.
- Your employer provides the equipment or tools you must use for your work.
- You have an ongoing employment relationship with your boss that does not end once you have completed a project.
- You have no choice about the assignments you will take or how you will complete them.
Your employer may tell you that you are working as an independent contractor. You might even sign a contract or work for a number of years as an independent contractor, but these factors do not necessarily mean you are not an employee. It is the legal definition of an employee or an independent contractor that dictates your classification, not the decision of the employer.
What to do if you think your employer has misclassified you
If you believe your employer has classified you as an independent contractor when you are working as an employee, you might face denial of important benefits and legal protections, such as fair wages and overtime, job protection and unemployment benefits. You could also face tax consequences for filing improperly. Therefore, it is critical that you first understand the relationship you have with your employer.
You will want to collect as much information as possible about your job, the hours you work, the method of payment you receive and other elements. Employee misclassification can be a complex and confusing issue, and you may find it helpful to seek sound legal advice and guidance through the process of seeking a resolution.