In California, employers must provide W2 employees with workers’ comp benefits. Conversely, independent contractors are not generally covered by workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, employers in California often misclassify their employees, calling them independent contractors.
If you want to determine whether or not you qualify as an independent contractor in California, you need to understand the following:
- Why an independent contractor is not entitled to benefits.
- Critical differences between independent contractors and employees.
- How to determine the difference between independent contractors and employees.
- How you can file a claim when your status is in dispute.
This post will help you to understand these concepts better and determine if hiring a California workers’ compensation attorney is right for you.
Independent Contractors and Workers’ Comp Benefits
According to California law, independent contractors are not entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits, as the California workers’ comp system applies only to a company employee. The difference between an employee and an independent contractor is significant if you suffer an injury while on the job. For independent contractors, any injury claim made might be denied by the insurance carrier, and California workers’ compensation laws will not apply.
On the other hand, company employees are entitled to the following:
- workers’ comp insurance
- Medicare and Social Security contributions
- protection under labor and employment discrimination laws
Sometimes, employers will use the status of independent contractor to avoid these vital employee entitlements. In other words, your employer might falsely classify you as an independent contractor to avoid providing workers’ comp and other benefits.
In some cases, the court may determine that you had been misclassified and that you are, in fact, an employee of the company. That might not only entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits, but compensation for unpaid wages, any overtime, and a failure to provide you with proper breaks.
Differences Between Employees and Independent Contractors
California law states that an employee is anyone in service to an employer through a written or oral contract, whether that contract is lawful or not. An independent contractor works for a set fee and specific result. While the employer controls the work’s outcome, the employer does not control how that work is done.
When workers do not control their work, they don’t have personal control over safety. In such cases, the workers are employees. On the other hand, an independent contractor chooses the burden and benefit that comes from self-employment and are in complete control of their work safety.
Determining Your Status as an Employee Versus Status as an Independent Contractor
In California, determining whether or not you are legally an employee versus someone who is an independent contractor must be based on fact. The mere fact that someone is referred to as an independent contractor within the relationship doesn’t automatically make it so.
The litmus test for determining status seeks to determine what control an employer has over a worker and the way in which they work.
Factors to be considered include:
- Whether or not the individual engages in a business or an occupation distinct from the employer.
- If the work performed is part of an employer’s regular business.
- Who supplies any tools for the work or the place where the work is performed.
- The worker’s investment in equipment and/or the materials required to perform the work.
- Whether or not special skills are required to perform the work.
- Whether or not an employee or an independent contractor typically performs the job.
- The worker’s length of service.
- The permanence of the relationship.
- Method of pay and whether it is based on time or job task.
Unfortunately, there’s no specific method for applying these factors, and every situation is different. That is why it is essential to hire a California workers’ compensation attorney when the question of worker status is in question or when a workers’ compensation claim is denied.
Managing a Workers’ Comp Claim Denial in California
If you file a California workers’ comp claim for benefits, an insurance company might deny the claim arguing that you’re an independent contractor rather than an employee. Thankfully, there are motions that you can file to get your claim in front of a judge who can decide whether or not the insurance company has made the right decision.
In such cases, it is up to the insurer to prove that you do not qualify as a company employee. Should the insurer fails to prove its case, you may then be eligible for certain benefits, including coverage of medical costs, travel reimbursement, disability benefits (temporary and permanent), job displacement benefits, and death benefits.
How California Workers’ Comp Law Firms Can Help
If you believe that you or someone you love has been wrongly denied workers’ compensation due to misclassification as an independent contractor, contact the workers’ compensation experts from Aoudi Law. Our experienced team of professionals has helped countless California employees get the compensation they deserve. Call or text 714-386-9874 today for a free consultation.