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Can I File For Workers’ Compensation if I’m only Part Time?

According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, all employees, including those who are part time, are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Even workers who are injured while working out of state may still qualify to file for benefits in Illinois so long as their primary place of employment is Illinois.

Benefits Available for Part-Time Workers

All the same workers’ compensation benefits available to full-time workers in Illinois are available to part-time workers as well. This includes wage benefits for temporary total and partial disabilities, medical bills, and, if necessary, permanent disability payments.

Injured Chicago workers should receive two-thirds of their weekly wages when they are required to miss work due to an injury. When part-time workers are injured who are employed at two jobs, and who must miss work, their benefits should be two-thirds of the combined pay for both jobs. However, the employer of the job where the part-time worker was injured must be aware of the second job.

Part-Time Employee vs. Independent Contractor

One of the caveats to receiving compensation through workers’ compensation insurance in Illinois for part-time workers is that they must be listed as a part-time employee of the business rather than as an independent contractor. It is not uncommon for employers to list part-time employees as independent contractors simply because it is easier and saves money. If an employer is labeling a worker who is actually a part-time employee as an independent contractor simply to save money, they are denying the worker many benefits, including the possibility of filing a workers’ compensation claim in the event of a workplace injury.

Generally the following statements are true of independent contractors:

  1. The employer/payer only has say in the result of the work, not in how or when it is done;
  2. The independent contractor negotiates the pay for their work and receives full payment without any taxes or deductions;
  3. Generally, the independent contractor has their own premises or place of business where they conduct their work;
  4. Independent contractors usually use their own tools or materials to complete jobs; and
  5. The employer and independent contractor negotiate an agreement for work that creates a legal liability if work is not completed or the relationship is terminated.

The same points would not be true for a part-time employee. A worker should be classified as a part-time employee if:

  1. The employer controls when, where, and how the worker completes their work tasks;
  2. The worker does not negotiate the terms of their payment, and the employer sets the wage and pays the worker on either a bi-weekly or weekly basis;
  3. The worker does not supply the tools or materials needed to perform their work duties, but has them provided by the employer;
  4. The worker has little or no control on what premises they complete their work; and
  5. Either employer or worker may terminate the relationship without legal liability being incurred.

If you are labeled an independent contractor, but the employer has extensive control over your schedule and work, it is worth discussing the labeling with your employer. By remaining an independent contractor, you would not be able to collect any benefits if you were injured while working.

Penalties for Misclassification of Employees

Employers are legally obligated to correctly classify their employees by the Employee Classification Act, 820 ILCS 185. Workers who think they are being misclassified as independent contractors have the option of filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor. The DOL will then carry out an investigation to determine whether or not the employer is in violation of the Act. Similar to workers’ compensation claims, it is illegal for the employer to retaliate in any way against a worker for filing a complaint.

An employer who willfully chooses to misclassify employees as independent contractors could be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,500 for every violation. In addition, a separate penalty may be incurred for each person that was misclassified for every day the violation continues. If the employer violates the act or attempts to prevent an investigation, they could be subject to double the amount in penalties.

How Long Do I Have To Be Employed To Qualify For Workers’ Compensation?

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