Are you really an independent contractor? One form of wage theft deserves its own entry: the mis-classification of employees as independent contractors. Millions of workers are affected, especially in industries such as construction, truck driving, real estate, home care, janitorial and high-tech jobs.
Independent Contractor – Overtime
For millions of workers, the classification is a lie: They aren’t “independent” in any way. It’s just a way for the boss to steal part of their wages.
Classifying an employee as an independent contractor is attractive to employers because it saves them so much time and money. For instance, employers owe payroll taxes for every employee, but if workers are classified as independent contractors, the company doesn’t have to pay its share of Social Security and Medicare taxes or unemployment-insurance taxes. The Government Accountability Office figured in 2009 that misclassification cost the federal Treasury about $3 billion a year, because many independent contractors don’t pay the taxes they owe.
Companies avoid many legal responsibilities when they classify workers as contractors. Contractors don’t have the right to form unions or complain about working conditions. They can’t file for unemployment, or worker’s compensation. They aren’t covered by minimum-wage laws or overtime requirements, nor do they receive any benefits, such as family medical leave, paid vacation, sick days, retirement or health insurance.
This is wrong. If you are paid hourly and you perform the normal job duties of the company, you are probably not an independent contractor. You are probably entitled to overtime and other benefits that employees receive.
It is nearly impossible for a company to justify classifying its normal workers as independent contractors. If you are doing the normal work of a company you are mostly likely an employee, not an independent contractor. You should be entitled to overtime.
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