So you've been hired as an "independent contractor" but you're wondering if you should really be classified as an employee instead. What's the big deal? Well, your worker classification determines whether you're protected by important labor laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). And employee status comes with key benefits that contractors miss out on.
Let's break it down:
Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay
The FLSA requires that employees receive at least federal minimum wage for every hour worked. It also says employees must be paid 1.5 times their regular rate for any hours over 40 per week. However, these pay protections don't apply to contractors - they can be paid low flat rates that shake out to below minimum wage. And they receive no overtime premiums no matter how much they work.
If you're an employee, it's illegal for employers to dodge FLSA pay requirements. But as a contractor, they can set whatever pay they want since you're not subject to the law. Big difference for your wallet!
Beyond pay requirements, employees are also entitled to workplace benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, unemployment insurance, and paid time off. Contractors are generally excluded from these.
Of course, benefits cost companies extra money. So employers often misclassify workers as contractors to avoid paying for benefits they'd owe employees. Don't get cheated out of the benefits you deserve!
Employees have payroll taxes like Social Security, Medicare, and income tax withheld from their paychecks. This makes tax season easier. Contractors, however, are responsible for paying their own taxes.
In addition, misclassified contractors can get hit with penalties for not paying taxes during the year as employees do. Yet another way misclassification can hurt you financially!
Protection From Discrimination
Finally, federal laws ban workplace discrimination and harassment against employees based on race, gender, age, disability, and other protected classes. As an employee, you're shielded by these civil rights laws. But as a contractor, you lose that layer of legal protection.
So consider the implications carefully if an employer calls you a contractor. Ensure you aren't missing out on pay, benefits, taxes, and protections owed to employees. Check the details of your work arrangement and watch for red flags. And if you suspect misclassification, speak up and request your proper status under the FLSA. Being called a contractor sounds fancy, but employee status puts real dollars in your pocket!
If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor and denied rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act, reach out to an employment lawyer. An experienced attorney can review your work arrangement, determine if you meet the criteria for employee status, and advise you on the next steps. You may be owed back pay, benefits, proper tax withholding, or other compensation. Don't let employers mislabel you to avoid compliance. Know your rights and consult a lawyer to fight misclassification - it's your hard-earned money and protections at stake.