Is your employer illegally labeling you an "independent contractor"?

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is teaming up with other state agencies to crackdown on businesses that misclassify employees as independent contractors. Some businesses do this on purpose, and it’s illegal.

Misclassification affects workers’ compensation because independent contractors are not eligible for benefits if they get hurt on the job. Someone who is an employee does get benefits, including payment for lost wages while they recover, payment of medical bills and compensation for an injury that is permanent. So when an employer misclassifies employees as independent contractor, they don’t have to pay for work injuries.

Some business owners do this unknowingly, but others do it as a way to cheat the system, keep costs down and gain an advantage over the competition. Illinois says the recent crackdown is meant to focus on the second group – those who misclassify employees on purpose.

We’ve written about this issue before, and our point usually is that you need to make sure you’re actually an independent contractor and not a misclassified employee if you are denied workers’ compensation because of your status. An employer might point to your job title or description as a way to get out of paying benefits, but it doesn’t matter. Your status is determined not by your job title but by the way your employer oversees and manages your work.

Generally speaking, the more control your employer has over your work, the more likely you are to be an employee. If your employer tells you when to work, dictates how you do your job, provides tools, supplies, uniforms, or controls other aspects of your work in this way, then you might not be an independent contractor.

Misclassification is not only bad for injured employees. The state claims it’s bad for the economy, as well. Misclassifying employees robs workers of overtime. It hurts honest business owners who correctly classify their employees and pay workers’ compensation and proper insurance and taxes. These honest businesses have higher overhead and can’t provide bids that are competitive with businesses that keep their costs low by breaking the law.

If you want to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer about whether you truly are an independent contractor, feel free to give us a call.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

By Michael Helfand

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