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Independent contractor or employee: which are you?

One of the age-old questions for workers is how they are classified, are you an employee or an independent contractor? Believe or not, but that classification significantly impacts your rights as a worker. Employees are entitled greater protections whereas independent contractors enjoy more flexibility in their business (nominally more flexibility). This post will go over some of the differences between independent contractors and employees.

Independent contractors (or consultants) are nominally independent. They typically operate their own business which works in conjunction with the employer's business on specific jobs or contracts. Employees, by contrast, are hired by the employer and work there indefinitely (or until fired). The employee performs a particular function on an indefinite basis.

For example, you hire a painter to paint your home. The painter is your independent contractor, not employee, because you hire the painter for one job, to paint your home, and it is based on one contract. Conversely, if you owned an apartment complex and you hire a handyman to fix odds and ends all over your property and act as a jack-of-all-trades acts closer to your employee because he performs functions and works for you for an indefinite duration.

The distinction is critical because it determines if you qualify for legal protections extended to employees.

If you are engaged in an employment dispute, then you may want to contact a lawyer – you could have an actionable employment claim. Employers frequently misclassify their workers to avoid obligations traditionally imposed on employees. If you were misclassified, that would give rise to an employment-related dispute. You are denied benefits, such as workers' compensation and unemployment if you're not properly classified. A lawyer can help you obtain compensation for your denied benefits.

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