I get that taxes suck, as does paying for insurance. A lot of small businesses don’t want to pay it. Some big ones don’t want to either. We see a lot of Illinois small businesses try to avoid having to pay payroll taxes or for workers’ compensation premiums by telling workers they will be 1099 independent contractors when they start the job. It’s almost as if they think they’ve found some loophole that will save them money. And the reality is that often they are right because the IRS and Illinois Department of Revenue don’t have the ability to investigate everyone.
For you as an injured worker in Illinois, just because they give you a 1099 and say that you aren’t an employee doesn’t mean it’s true. If they have control over you, then you are likely an employee and can win benefits if injured while working. Control means where to go, what to do, when to do it, how to do it, you can’t turn down work, etc.
Recently I spoke with an Aurora carpenter who got hired by a friend a few years ago and has worked since without major injuries. He was told that he’d be a 1099 and was paid that way, but in every other way, he was treated like an employee. He was even given vacation and sick pay. That’s not how contractors are treated.
He sustained a major ACL injury after a nasty fall and had to have surgery. His boss promised to pay him $750 cash a week and help with the bills but failed to do that. That led to him picking up the phone and calling me.
In most of these situations, we discover that the company didn’t have any workers’ compensation insurance. This doesn’t stop us from helping – there is a State fund that steps in – but does make things take longer. In this case, even though it’s a mostly one-man business, we did discover that he had work comp insurance even though he lied about his employees in order to keep his rates down.
There might still be a battle, but I’m very confident that we can prove that this 1099 worker was actually an employee. In fact, when someone has been in the same role for years and is treated as an employee in every way except for their paycheck, it’s often an easy case to make.
The bottom line when it comes to Illinois work comp is don’t worry if you’ve been misclassified and are told that you aren’t eligible for work comp benefits. The facts matter and if you are treated as an employee, we should be able to help. And if you want to discuss your options or see if you have a case, please contact us any time.