In the modern economy, misclassification of workers is a significant and growing problem. While it was once rare for workers to be considered independent contractors, a large section of the workforce is now under this classification.
On the surface, the differences between an employee and an independent contractor may appear to be minimal. Some Georgia companies regularly hire employees and independent contractors to work side by side doing very similar tasks. However, if you’re hurt at work, being misclassified as an independent contractor will lead to a denial of workers' compensation benefits.
Proving the Nature of Your Relationship
In the simplest terms, an independent contractor is someone who does not have taxes taken out of his check and has no access to employer-provided benefits such as health insurance, a retirement plan, and paid vacation.
However, a business can’t simply decide on its own that you are an independent contractor. There is a specific legal definition for this term based on a number of different factors related to behavioral control, financial control, and the nature of your relationship with the business.
Classifications Based on Supervision of Work
- You are likely an employee if you have a supervisor who determines when, where, and how you must perform your work.
- You are likely an independent contractor if you work with minimal supervision and the business is only concerned with the end result of your work.
Classifications Based on Training
- You are likely an employee if the business provides you with specific training designed to help you perform your work in a certain way.
- You are likely an independent contractor if it is assumed that you either have the necessary training to do your job or will seek out training on your own time.
Classifications Based on Evaluation of Work
- You are likely an employee if your work is evaluated based on how it is performed.
- You are likely an independent contractor if your work is evaluated based on the quality of the final product or service.
Classifications Based on Nature of Services
- You are likely an employee if your work is a key part of the business. For example, if you are a server or cook in a restaurant, your employer is likely controlling your work to a significant degree.
- You are likely an independent contractor if your services do not relate to the business’s core mission. For example, consultants who provide accounting or marketing assistance to a manufacturing company are likely to be considered independent contractors.
Classifications Based on Investment in Materials and Supplies
- You are likely an employee if the business you work for provides you with the tools necessary to perform your work.
- You are likely an independent contractor if you are required to buy the materials needed to perform your work, such as a computer, specialized software, and general office supplies.
Classifications Based on Opportunity for Profit and Loss
- You are likely an employee if you’re paid a fixed hourly rate or a set salary.
- You are likely an independent contractor if you can either profit or lose money, based on the time and expenses necessary to complete your work.
Classifications Based on Permanency of Relationship
- You are likely an employee if you have a fixed, ongoing relationship with one business.
- You are likely an independent contractor if you are hired for a specific project or task and regularly work with more than one business at a time.
How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help
If you believe that your employer is trying to inaccurately classify you as an independent contractor in order to deny you access to workers’ compensation benefits, it’s vital that you seek the assistance of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Do not take the risk of representing yourself, as mistakes can leave you responsible for your own medical expenses and lost wages.
Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys are committed to helping Georgia employees receive the worker’s compensation benefits that they are entitled to. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.