Worker Misclassification Robs Workers of Benefits

In Pennsylvania and across the nation, businesses are attempting a new tactic to try to cut labor costs. They are not firing employees, or instituting hiring freezes. They are trying to shift the cost of doing business from the business to the worker. Instead of categorizing regular workers as "employees," they are attempting to shift more and more employees to "contractor" status. This saves the employer from having to pay certain taxes as well as workman's compensation insurance. It also pushes certain legal liabilities from the business to the worker.

Contractor or Employee

An employer does not get to unilaterally determine if a worker should be an employee or a contractor. In fact, even if both parties agree to treat the worker as a contractor, the law may still find that the worker should have been treated as an employee. Here are some factors that Pennsylvania courts consider:

· Control of how the work is performed

· Result-oriented responsibilities

· Terms of the agreement between the worker and the business

· The nature of the work

· The skill required for the work

· Which party supplies the tools and materials needed

· If payment is by time or by job

· If the work is part of the regular business of the alleged employer

Generally, the court will weigh the different factors to determine if a worker is correctly labeled a contractor. Certain factors, such as the control of the way in which the work is performed, may weigh more than other factors. In certain fields, such as construction, there are more requirements to be considered a contractor. Overall, even though the court will consider the terms of the agreement between the business and the worker, that agreement alone will not be able to determine if a worker is an employee or a contractor. It is in the interest of the government that workers are properly protected and compensated in cases of injury.

For most employers, carrying workman's compensation insurance is mandatory for the benefit of the employees. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who file a claim that they have been misclassified. If you have been injured at work, contact an attorney right away. Even if you are labeled as a contractor, an experienced attorney can assist you in determining if that label is correct. If you have been denied worker's compensation because you are a contractor, and you think that decision was incorrect, contact an experienced attorney for assistance and advice. Many worker's compensation attorneys offer free consultations to help answer your question.