An employer can call you whatever they want, for their purposes, but it doesn’t carry much weight when it comes to what you’re entitled to under employment laws. If you are incorrectly labeled an independent contractor, you may be missing out on significant pay, protection and benefits.

Hiring independent contractors is relatively easy for an employer, and it tends to be cheaper, too. For example, employers don’t have to withhold taxes or pay employment tax on an independent contractor, so they might be tempted to label you as such, even when it’s not true.

The reason this should matter to you is because an employee is generally entitled to more than an independent contractor. There are more requirements placed on employers and therefore more protection for employees under the law. Employees are eligible for overtime (if they otherwise qualify) and entitled workers’ compensation, minimum wage pay and other benefits in most cases. Most independent contractors are not entitled to these things.

Illinois law sets the rules on what makes someone an employee vs. an independent contractor. The key is control. The more control your employer has over you, the more likely it is that you are an employee. If your employer sets your hours, provides the equipment you use to do your job, gives you a uniform, instructs you on how to do your job, or anything else that gives them control over what you do, you might be an employee.

In many cases, there’s a mix, with the employer controlling some aspects of your work, but leaving some up to you. It’s these cases that often result in misclassification because the lines aren’t clear.

If your employer says that you’re an independent contractor, don’t take their word for it. If you believe you have been misclassified and that you are owed past pay and/or benefits, talk to an Illinois employment attorney about whether you have a claim worth pursuing.

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.