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Contract Employees and Workers’ Compensation

Companies are increasingly choosing to hire workers classified as independent contractors over workers classified as standard employees. One of the main reasons for this shift is that workers classified as independent contractors are not legally entitled to all of the benefits as are workers classified as employees. Consequently, this maneuver can save a company a significant amount of money. Workers’ compensation is one of the areas in which worker classification makes a major difference. If you have been injured on the job, you should always speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to make sure that you are receiving all of the benefits to which you are fairly entitled.


Companies are Increasingly Misclassifying Workers


Alarmingly, the Department of Labor has noted that there has been a sharp rise in the number of companies incorrectly classifying workers as independent contractors. This action is inappropriate and denies those workers access to fair benefits. Workers’ compensation is typically one of the benefits not available to independent contractors and therefore gets improperly denied. This fact comes as a shocking and unpleasant surprise to many workers who do not realize this until an injury has already taken place. If you find yourself in this situation, you might be a misclassified worker. Do not simply take an employer’s word for it; always speak to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney.


How to Determine Worker Classification


As the Department of Labor pointed out in their guidance, a company can not merely decide that a worker is an independent contractor. There are very specific legal and regulatory criteria for determining whether or not a worker should be considered an independent contractor or as an employee. These legal criteria come down to the real day to day nature of the worker’s role in the company. Key criteria include:


  • Control- Independent contractors are hired to provide a specific service. The company pays for the service and does not exercise close control over the contractor’s time or methods. If the company is closely supervising the contractor, that is evidence of an employer-employee relationships and not a company-contractor relationship. The greater control a company has over your methods and your time, the more likely you are to be an employee of the company.
  • Schedule- If you are brought in on a job-by job-basis and can work for multiple companies, that suggests you are an independent contractor. But, if you are continuously working for the same company, and working regular hours, you should more likely be classified as an employee.
  • Payment- Contractors are paid by the job, on a per job basis. If you are being paid on an hourly basis or being paid a salary, that is evidence that you should be classified as an employee.
  • Supplies- If supplies are required to complete a job, contractors typically provide their own supplies whereas employees are generally provided supplies by the employer.



Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney


After an on-the-job injury, you deserve to recover full and fair benefits. Unfortunately, collecting workers’ compensation can get complicated in many cases. Remember, if an employer tells you that you are classified as an independent contractor, that does not necessarily make their claim accurate. All too often employers will attempt to misclassify workers to avoid paying benefits. You should always contact an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to make sure that your legal rights are fully protected.

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