How the Independent Contractor or Employee Status Affects Workers’ Compensation Rights

April 16, 2018

Employees are entitled workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job or suffer an occupational illness. Independent contractors generally are not entitled to state workers’ compensation benefits for any reason. It is therefore essential that a worker first show that he/she was an employee. The good news for workers is that the employer does not decide who is an employee or an independent contractor – the state decides. At Larry Pitt & Associates, our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers explain that even signing a contract saying you are an employee is not controlling.

What factors determine your employment status?

The key determination is how much control the employer as over your work relationship. Typically, the hearing officer and appellate judges will consider:

  • The payment method. A W-2 indicates employee status. A 1099 indicates independent contractor status. A flat-fee payment suggests independent contractor status. Payment by the hour, week, or by piece indicates employee status. Workers who can get a share of the profit depending on client satisfaction are more likely to be considered an independent contractor.
  • Benefit payments. If your employer pays your payroll taxes and unemployment insurance – that indicates an employee relationship. Payment of retirement benefits, matching IRA contributions, and health insurance also indicates that you are an employee. Employees are also generally paid sick pay and vacation time.
  • Who provides the equipment. Independent contractors are more likely to use their own tools of the trade. Employees use the equipment and tools the employer provides for them.
  • Work instruction. Employers instruct employees how to do the work and when. Independent contractors do the work their own way provided they meet the general work requirements.
  • Training. An employee is more likely to be trained and sent for class instruction than an independent contractor.
  • The type of work. If the work is essential to the employer’s business, that indicates an employee relationship. Independent contractors are generally hired to fill in the gaps – to do the work that employees don’t normally do.
  • The length of the job. A short-term relationship suggests an independent contractor status. Employees are more likely to work for months or years.

Some other considerations include:

  • When and how the worker can be fired
  • Does the worker get to suggest who he/she works with?
  • Can the worker do other jobs away from the employer’s work site?

Some additional questions a judge will review to determine employee vs. independent contractor status are:

  • Can the worker do other jobs at the same time?
  • Who has the right to fire the worker and on what terms?
  • Can the worker choose who he works with on the job?

Independent contractors can bring negligence claims against the employer for medical costs, pain and suffering, and wage loss.

Employees rely on Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers to bring their claim for wage benefits, medical expenses, and vocational rehabilitation. There is no need to prove the employer was at fault for an accident in a worker’s compensation claim. At Larry Pitt & Associates, our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers have a long history of helping workers get approval for work injury claims. We fight for clients throughout Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia. For help now, please call us today at 888.PITT.LAW or fill out our contact form to arrange a free consultation.