Nowadays, more and more employers are choosing to classify people who work for them as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes and the premiums for their workers’ compensation insurance. The implication of this is that workers who are engaged as independent contractors will not be able to access benefits like lost wages or medical expenses in the event that they are injured on the job.
If you find yourself in this situation, the most important question that will determine your case is whether you were indeed an independent contractor or an employee misclassified as one. Arizona defines an independent contractor as “[a] person engaged in work for a business, and who while so engaged is independent of that business in the execution of the work and not subject to the rule or control of the business for which the work is done, but is engaged only in the performance of a definite job or piece of work, and is subordinate to that business only in effecting a result in accordance with that business design.” A.R.S. § 23-902(C).
So, the name your employer chose to call you is irrelevant because when you file your claim, the state workers’ compensation board will use a number of factors to determine your true role. Having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side will be very beneficial because some of the criteria are subjective and convincing the authorities that you were misclassified might be the key to getting the benefits you need.
The extent of the control exercised by the employer over the independent contractor is a key factor. For a true independent contractor, the service that was agreed on in the contract will be provided without the direction of the employer.
This means that the contractor will have carte blanche to control how the service is provided, by whom it is done and other technical aspects of accomplishing it. On the other hand, if the employer was involved in the process by giving specific directions, then it will indicate to the board that the contractor was actually acting as an employee.
Independent contractors do not necessarily need to be interviewed and formally hired before they are engaged by the employer, and they also receive payment per job completed. This is as opposed to employees who have to follow a process to be hired and also get paid on an hourly or salaried basis.
The question of who provides the equipment to be used in carrying out a job is often a big consideration. Independent contractors will typically work with their own equipment while employees most often use equipment provided by the employer.
Independent contractors are likely to be engaged to do highly skilled, one-off (or infrequent) jobs for multiple companies. In contrast with that, workers who receive training from a particular company and perform regular work for the same company are likely to be considered employees.
Although the name assigned to the worker in the agreements will not be the only determinant, it will still be considered in determining the appropriate classification.
Arizona Injury Law Group offers the top workers’ compensation attorneys in Phoenix and surrounding areas. Call us if you have a question about your classification and we’ll evaluate you with a free consultation!
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