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How can a worker be misclassified as an independent contractor?

If a worker is misclassified as an independent contractor, there are a few things that could happen. If the worker is injured, that worker won't have the workers' compensation coverage he or she deserves, requiring the individual to seek legal advice and help pursuing a claim either for workers' compensation coverage or for compensation for the cost of an injury and related expenses.

Misclassified workers miss out on many different benefits that other workers receive. They don't have access to overtime pay or unemployment insurance. They may not have access to workers' compensation or health insurance. Even the state loses money since the employer isn't paying taxes for the worker.

Employee misclassification isn't actually illegal in North Carolina. However, those who believe they are misclassified can make a complaint with the Employee Classification Section of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The ECS then investigates the claim, which can lead to an employer reclassifying an employee properly.

How could you be misclassified? Imagine this: You come to a site to work every day at the same time. You're expected to arrive on time and do the same work each day. There is no termination date on your contract, and you're treated, on the whole, as a normal employee. The difference is that you don't get any of the employee benefits you should be receiving.

Independent contractors are their own bosses; they have the right to accept or decline work. If you don't have that option, then you may be working as an employee but be misclassified, which is something that should be addressed.

Source: The Progressive Pulse, "North Carolina takes step forward in addressing worker misclassification," Carol Brooke, accessed Sep. 29, 2016

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Jay Gervasi, P.A.
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