Some kinds of workers are clearly independent contractors. If you drive for Uber or Lyft or pick up delivery work through the Door Dash or Instacart apps, you understand that you are an independent contractor, and you don’t expect employee protections and entitlements from those companies. In fact, you might like the freedom that being a contractor gives you—no one can make you take a certain job, and you don’t get penalized if you choose not to work.
However, if you work for a company that exerts some amount of control over how you spend your time, you might not be an independent contractor after all. Why does it matter? We explain.
What Is the Difference Between a Contractor and an Employee?
In New Jersey, employees are entitled to the following protections:
- The right to minimum wage and overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a week
- Eligibility for workers’ compensation payments if you are injured at work
- The right to receive unemployment benefits, temporary disability benefits, and earned sick leave
- The right to take job-protected time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act
- The right to join a labor union
These are important benefits and protections, but if you are classified as an independent contractor, you are not entitled to any of them. That is why it is so important to ensure that your employer is not misclassifying you to save themselves money and to deprive you of your rights.
Do You Pass the ABC Test?
Under New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law, a worker should be considered a regular employer unless all of the following are true:
- Your employer does not direct or control how you perform your work. In other words, your employer does not give you directions, provide training, set your work hours, and specify your responsibilities.
- The work you do for your employer is substantially different from their usual course of business or is performed at a location other than their usual place of business. For example, if a dental office is paying you to put up a fence, you are likely a contractor.
- You have an independently established trade or profession that exists apart from the relationship you have with your employer. In other words, your work for this employer is limited to a certain amount of time, you pay your own expenses, or you do similar work for other companies.
It is the employer’s burden to prove that all three of these criteria apply to you in order to establish that you are an independent contractor.
When the Waters Are Murky, Trust an Employment Law Attorney
Determining whether you are an independent contractor can be more difficult than it seems at first. You might answer yes to some of the criteria but are not so sure about other parts of it. If you believe that you have been misclassified by a New Jersey employer, contact Steinberg Law to talk to our employment lawyer about your status.