3 common myths about employee misclassification

An employer can classify people who work for him or her as employees or as independent contractors. There may not be much difference between the two in the work they do on a daily basis. The difference is that employees have certain rights that independent contractors do not. Sometimes employers classify workers incorrectly, possibly without meaning to.

The most common myth about misclassification is that it is up to the employer to decide which is which. As the Department of Labor explains, the law defines who is an employee and who is an independent contractor. A worker who meets the legal definition of an employee has the right to benefits from his or her employer. Here are some more specific myths about misclassification.

1. A worker is an independent contractor if that is the common industry practice

Common industry practice does not take precedence over the law. A worker who meets the definition of an employee under the law is an employee regardless of his or her classification.

2. A worker who is an independent contractor now will always be one

It may be that a worker currently meets the definition of an independent contractor, meaning that that classification is correct. However, if the work relationship changes in the future, the worker could eventually fit the definition of an employee.

3. Worker classification does not matter as long as the worker gets paid

Workers with a misclassification of independent contractor could be missing out on employee benefits. These include workers’ compensation, medical leave, overtime pay and a minimum wage.

The law guarantees these rights to workers who fit the definition of an employee.