Today's workplace looks very different than the workplaces we were used to seeing 10 or even just five years ago. Increasingly, workers are freeing themselves from the confines of traditional office settings and 9-to-5 workdays. This has contributed to the growth of what is being referred to as the "gig economy."
Rather than working one job as a full-time employee, many people are working in shorter-term roles as freelancers, on-demand workers and contractors. Oftentimes, these workers have at least a couple jobs in a given time period, and this isn't expected to change any time soon. Considering how many people are part of this gig economy, it can be critical to understand why your employment classification as a contractor or employee matters.
You may already be aware that there are certain benefits that you don't receive from a company unless you are a full-time employee, like health care. However, as noted in this article, there are many other protections that are not guaranteed for non-employees of which you may be unaware.
- Overtime pay and minimum wage
- Workers' compensation benefits and unemployment
- Protection from workplace discrimination
- Job-protected leave
These are federal protections that are in place for employees, but not for contractors and other types of non-employees.
Because employers don't have to comply with these measures for non-employees, they have motivation to classify a worker as something other than an employee.
However, it is not up to an employer to decide whether someone is classified as an employee or contractor. There are guidelines put in place by federal agencies to assess and determine whether a person is an employee or a contractor. If you are doing the work and serving the role of an employee, you should be compensated and protected like one.
If you believe you have been misclassified and/or robbed of certain employment benefits, it can be crucial that you discuss your situation with an attorney. With legal guidance, you can better understand your rights and legal options to protect yourself.