Do you work as a contractor — rather than an employee — for another company? Then you need to understand how employment law affects you. Many independent contractors don't fully understand their position when it comes to the rights and responsibilities of being hired labor. And failure to understand where you stand could cost you money and even be a danger to your health. Here's what you need to know.
Independent Contractors Have Fewer Protections
If you are hired by a company to perform work, you may easily misunderstand your employment status. Independent contractors are not employees, and they do not have the protections of labor laws. This includes protection from breach of employment agreements, safety in the workplace, withholding of payment, and harassment or hostile work environments.
One big element of labor law that is missing is any sort of workers' compensation. The company does not cover independent contractors with its own insurance, and you may have no right to the payment of medical expenses if you're injured.
Independent Contractors May Have Rights to Protection
If this seems disheartening, there is some good news. You may actually be able to assert the rights of an employee even if you were hired as a contractor. The reason is known as employment misclassification.
Hiring and paying an employee is expensive. The employer must pay a wage plus overtime, payroll taxes, employee benefits, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, and the cost of administering payroll and human resources. A cheaper and easier way to hire workers is to misclassify them as independent contractors and place the financial burden on the worker.
However, this may not be allowed under both federal and state labor rules. A company cannot simply decide who will be on payroll and who will be a contractor, but rather must follow the rules for both types of workers. Therefore, if your position actually qualifies as an employee, you may be able to get back these rights.
Independent Contractors May Fight for Their Rights
An independent contractor who wants to fight for their employment rights should first begin by learning more about the rules that define employees and independent contractors. If the company expects you to work on their schedule, with their tools, and under their supervision, for instance, you should likely be classified as an employee with attendant rights.
The next move is to seek out an employment attorney to help you fix the misclassification. Misclassified workers may be able to work with oversight agencies to rectify the wrong and be reclassified as an employee. This could not only result in remuneration but also retroactively give you the benefits you deserved.
Start today by meeting with an experienced employment attorney in your state. You may be able to fix the past and make your future brighter.