The way that you are classified as a worker can be very important to the wages you earn. This is because different types of workers have differing wage rights. One example of this are the disparities between wages earned by employees versus wages earned by independent contractors.
The use of the independent contractor classification is estimated to have risen by around 40 percent over around the past decade. In this environment, concerns arise that some workers are getting misclassified as independent contractors when they actually should be employees. Employers can't simply classify anyone they want as an independent contractor, they are only supposed to use this classification appropriately and where it actually applies.
It is important to protect yourself from the practice of misclassification. The reason why workers can often be misclassified is because independent contractors typically have fewer rights as workers than full employees have. Therefore, employers might misclassify an employee as an independent contractor in order to save the company money.
What is the difference between an employee and an independent contractor?
An employee has many rights, both financially and in terms of the working environment. Often, they are entitled to both overtime pay and unemployment insurance. They may qualify for rest breaks and lunch breaks in addition to workers' compensation benefits.
However, independent contractors typically have no such rights. They are not covered by workers' compensation in the event of injuries, and lack many job protections. It also means that those wrongfully classified as independent contractors could unfairly face more risks when it comes to health, safety and finances.
What can I do if I'm a misclassified worker?
The first thing that you should do is conduct thorough research so that you understand how the California laws and rules affecting worker classification work. Once you have a clear understanding of your rights, you may want to try to determine what you should be entitled to as a worker. At that point, you can raise the issue of your misclassification with your employer, ideally in writing. They may agree to reassess your classification. However, if you believe that your employer continues to incorrectly classify you, you may want to address the matter from a legal standpoint.
Why is it important that I take action?
You may have missed out on a significant amount of unpaid overtime wages as a misclassified worker, especially if you regularly work over 40 hours per week. Working under an incorrect independent contractor classification also means that you could have little security if you get fired.
If you believe that you are a misclassified worker, it is always a good idea to look further into the issue and take the time to understand your rights.