Any time a company hires an individual, the company must classify that individual as an employee, an independent contractor, volunteer, intern, or another appropriate title. This article will focus on the two most common classifications–”employee” and “independent contractor.” These terms are more than just labels, as they have many legal implications depending on how a worker is classified.
There are many differences between an employee and an independent contractor, including the protections you are provided under employment laws and the benefits to which you are entitled. One important difference is that the large majority of employees are covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance while independent contractors are not. Workers compensation benefits are very important in the event that you are involved in a workplace accident or otherwise sustain a work-related injury or illness. Workers’ comp insurance can provide you with the appropriate medical care for your injury and can provide compensation for the income you lost if you missed work during your recovery. In addition, you can receive additional compensation if your on the job injury resulted in a permanent disability or disfigurement.
Many independent contractors work in relatively dangerous fields, including construction or driving a commercial truck. This puts them at a high risk of serious injuries in the course of their work. However, if they are injured, their employer is under no obligation to make a workers’ compensation claim to provide them benefits.
Independent contractor classification is often wrong
While some workers are clearly employees and some are clearly independent contractors, the classification for others may not be as immediately obvious. Too many companies automatically refer to such workers as independent contractors in order to save money on taxes, benefits, and unemployment and workers’ comp insurance when, in reality, that worker should actually be classified as an employee. Moreover, often the worker does not realize that they should be an employee and receiving all of the benefits and protections of that classification.
Simply stating that an individual is an independent contractor is not sufficient under labor laws and, instead, they must meet the requirements of a true independent contractor. While each situation may be different, the law provides a test for employers  to use when determining classifications. The following are only some of the factors in that test:
Misclassified workers are wrongfully denied workers’ compensation benefits. Though other factors are often relevant, the main focus is on the amount of control an employer has over the worker. In many situations, a company may call someone an independent contractor and deny them benefits and protections, but then will set their schedule, dictate what they wear and how to perform their job, or forbid them from working at other similar companies. In such a case, the worker would likely be misclassified because of the degree of control exercised over the individual.
Anyone who is misclassified as an independent contractor2 may be in trouble if they suffer serious injuries or illness while on the job. Too many injured workers simply accept their classification and their disqualification of workers’ compensation benefits to help them while they recover for their injuries. Simply because the injury occurred while your employer referred to you as an independent contractor does not mean it is a hopeless situation or that you cannot recover the benefits you rightfully deserve. If you discuss your case with an experienced workers’ comp law firm, the attorneys can evaluate your entire situations and identify any possible signs of misclassification and can help defend your legal rights to benefits. If a court decides you were actually an employee, you may receive all of the past benefits you deserved.
Call a Delaware workers’ compensation lawyer for assistance
If you are facing any issues with workers’ compensation, you want an attorney who understands all o the relevant laws in Delaware and how they may apply to you. Call the law office of Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC for a free consultation at 302-364-6047 today.