Independent Contractor Agreement

Labor & Employment Law

Independent Contractor 

An independent contractor is not the same as an employee.  An independent contractor is essentially self–employed, and provides their services to one or more companies or the public using methods and manner of their own choosing–which is why they are called “independent.”

Sometimes the line between employee and independent contractor is not crystal clear. Many independent contractors are “misclassified”, and really should be considered an employee. If you are unsure if you should be considered an independent contractor or an employee, schedule a consultation with Sass Law Firm. Sass Law Firm is a top-rated law firm with experienced employment attorneys that can help evaluate whether you are properly classified and take legal action if you are not.    

What is the difference between an employee and independent contractor?

A properly classified independent contractor is usually one who is in business for themselves and performs services as a contractor without much oversight or control by the employing company.  An employee, on the other hand, is under the direct control and oversight of their employer.

Employers may misclassify workers as independent contractors for several reasons—often times to avoid payroll taxes—but they may also do this to limit their liability for worker’s compensation, wage and hour compliance and other employment protections. Independent contractors are not entitled to these benefits and protections under the law.

In the employment law context, the main difference between an independent contractor and employee is that many of the employment laws, such as wage and hour, whistleblowing and anti-discrimination laws, do not typically apply to independent contractors.

Unlike employees, independent contractors typically do not receive the fringe benefits that traditional employees receive in their employment relationship, like insurance, retirement, and paid time off.

Am I misclassified?

Whether a worker is misclassified under the law depends on a variety of factors. Most employment laws focus on the degree of control the employer has over the “independent contractor.”  Some of these factors include:

  • How and when they are paid—hourly, salary, piece rate
  • Who provides the tools and equipment to do the job
  • Whether the worker is able to work for other employers
  • Indefinite v. temporary relationship
  • Who decides when and how the work will be performed
  • Who assigns the work

No one factor is entirely determinative and each case will depend on its own facts; however, if the evidence strongly weighs in favor of direct control over the worker, it is probably an employee relationship.

What if I signed an independent contractor agreement?

Just because you signed an agreement labeling yourself as an independent contractor is not conclusive proof that you are an independent contractor.  These agreements are just one factor in the analysis.  If you have any doubts about the validity of your independent contractor agreement, or feel an employer is affecting your ability to independently conduct business, please get advice from an experienced employment attorney at Sass Law Firm to review your agreement and your current employment situation.  Knowing your rights is important!

How do I challenge my independent contractor classification?

Independent contractors have the right to ask a state or federal agency to review their employment status. For example, if you were terminated and labelled as an independent contractor but were really treated more like an employee, you can file a claim for unemployment benefits and the Florida unemployment agency will hold a hearing regarding whether you were actually an employee or an independent contractor.  You can also submit complaints to the Internal Revenue Service regarding your classification status. 

If your working relationship is more like an “employee” rather than an “independent contractor” or you are having issues with your employer concerning wages or working hours, it is important to discuss the matter with an attorney experienced in employment law.  Contact Sass Law Firm, your Tampa Bay Employment Lawyers, for a consultation.

Man reviewing independent contractor agreement

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