Broadly speaking, there are two primary types of workers: employees and independent contractors. While this may not seem especially relevant to some people, the legal distinction between the two is incredibly important. Depending on whether you are an employee or independent contractor, you could have far different protections and responsibilities to your employer. Here are five things you should know about independent contractors:
- Employers have minimal control over them
- One of the defining differences between employees and independent contractors is that employers have relatively little control over contractors. This is because independent contractors are, at least in theory, separate from their employers, and able to pursue career opportunities elsewhere. The more an employer tries to put pressure on an independent contractor, the more likely it is that a court will consider them an employee, should there be a legal challenge to their classification.
- They do not receive most discrimination protections
- Independent contractors, sadly, do not benefit from most of the discrimination protections that employees do. This means an employer is free to engage in otherwise prohibited discrimination against independent contractors without fear of legal repercussions. The only exception to this is active harassment, which an employer can be held responsible for.
- They do not receive employee benefits (by default)
- Independent contractors also do not gain benefits normally available to employees. This includes things like paid vacation or sick days, access to a company health plan, overtime pay, or workers’ compensation. An independent contractor who wants to get these benefits would need to negotiate for them in their employment contract, or else they are out of luck.
- Employers are not legally responsible for them
- When an employee is negligent on the job and someone gets hurt, it is normally the employer’s responsibility to handle the legal and financial repercussions. The same is not true for independent contractors, who are responsible for their own actions. If they do something that results in a lawsuit, it is up to them to handle the consequences.
- Employers do not need to withhold Social Security taxes for them
- Perhaps one of the issues that most trips up independent contractors is that they are fully responsible for all Social Security taxes from their income. Compare this to employees, who are only responsible for half the Social Security taxes, and which is automatically deducted from their income by their employer. Some independent contractors find out the hard way that they have been classified as such, only when they find out just how much they owe in taxes for not being considered an employee.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.