How an employer defines an employee can make a big difference in the wages and benefits a worker receives. Workers can typically be classified as "employees" or as "independent contractors." There are pros and cons to both of these classifications. However, it is important to note that an employer benefits when they classify a worker as an independent contractor because they do not, for example, have to pay benefits to an independent contractor or offer perks such as sick or vacation time. There are also times when independent contractors who are correctly classified do not get paid the wages to which they are entitled.
At Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers, our unpaid wage lawyers are well aware of the tactics employers use to deny workers the full benefits of employment. If you believe you are being misclassified as an independent contractor when you should have been classified as an employee, or if the hiring company has not paid you your due wages for completed work, it is important that you contact a knowledgeable no win no fee employment attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.
Key Points - Table of Contents
- Employee Versus Independent Contractor
- Why Employers Misclassify Employees as Independent Contractors
- Are You an Independent Contractor Not paid for Work?
- Do Independent Contractors Have Rights?
- What Are Your Options?
Employee Versus Independent Contractor
According to California Labor Code Section 3351, an employee is an individual in the service of an employer under any appointment or contract. Non-exempt employees or workers who receive an hourly wage have the right to a minimum wage, overtime pay as well as meal breaks and rest breaks.
Employees also receive other benefits such as sick time, vacation, health insurance and other compensation. The employer is also responsible for withholding state and federal taxes from an employee's wages, making sure employees have a safe and healthy work environment and that they receive unemployment benefits.
Independent contractors are workers who render a service for a specific purpose for specific result. For example, a contractor may be hired for a specific project. Independent contractors have the freedom to choose which projects they take, where they work (at home or on site), how the work is completed, and what the compensation is for the project. They also set their own work schedules. Independent contractors are responsible for obtaining their own health insurance, purchasing their own work equipment and paying state and federal taxes.
Why Employers Misclassify Employees as Independent Contractors
There are times when employers mistakenly classify employees as contractors. However, more often than not, employers do so intentionally. Classifying employees as independent contractors saves the employer significant money and resources that they might have to spend for benefits packages, workers' compensation and disability benefits.
If you were improperly classified as an independent contractor, you may be entitled to receive compensation and unpaid wages. While minimum wage laws and overtime laws may not apply to independent contractors, they apply to employees. Some of the types of workers who are often misclassified in Los Angeles include seasonal workers, short-term workers, outside sales employees and construction workers.
Are You an Independent Contractor Not paid for Work?
Unpaid wages are different for independent contractors and employees. If you are an independent contractor who has not received payment for work you have completed, you may be wondering what recourse you may have against your client. Sadly, it is common for independent contractors to have trouble getting paid. You have the right to get paid for the work you did, as agreed.
Wages are, however, different for employees and contractors. As a contract worker, you don't have hourly wages or other benefits as an employee does. Employment laws can significantly vary between employees and independent contractors. Scheduling a free consultation with a knowledgeable employment attorney can help you better understand your rights.
Do Independent Contractors Have Rights?
Self-employed or independent contractors have the right to receive wages for work done. You have the right to control your schedule and determine the location from where you do the work. When a client does not pay on time, you may impose late fees. Federal labor laws or state employment laws may not cover independent contractors. But, if you have not been paid for work, you have the right to file a claim with the state department of labor for unpaid wages and with the federal department of labor. If you were misclassified as a non-employee, you should also be able to receive compensation for such misclassification.
What Are Your Options?
If you are owed unpaid wages, you should send your claim in writing to the business explaining the work that was done and the payment that is due. If you don't have a retainer or agreement, gather all the documents you do have including prior payments and tax documents such as a 1099 form. If you still don't get paid, your next step is to retain the services of an unpaid wages lawyer. An experienced lawyer will sue for payment. The more documents and evidence you have of the non-payment, the better your chances are to succeed with your unpaid wages claim.
If you are an independent contractor who has not received payment for work done, the experienced California unpaid wages attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley Lawyers can help you understand your options and fight to recoup the wages due. Call us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.