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Ask the Expert (Independent Contractors)

Question: I work for myself as an independent contractor. Am I protected by the same rules or are there different ones for me? What if I am fired?



Whether you are an independent contractor installing a computer network or installing drywall, Congratulations. Being your own boss is a rewarding and fulfilling venture. I did it myself and couldn’t be happier. In today’s world of telecommuting, corporate restructuring and a mobile workforce, self-employment is becoming very popular. The old standard of working on a jobsite directly under the employer’s supervision has changed. The definition of employee and independent contractor in some cases is starting to blend. 

Determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor is an issue that is receiving a lot more attention these days. Even though you have been hired as an independent contractor, you may actually be entitled to the same rights as a full-time employee if terminated. 

The courts have four tests that they use to help determine a worker’s status. Ask yourself these four questions. Are you working directly under the employer’s supervision, following their orders? Do you use your own tools or use an employer’s tools? Is there a chance of profit from your work, or a risk of loss? Finally, how integrated is your work into the employer’s business? There is no right answer that will determine your rights in the court’s eyes but they will look at all of this collectively and may decide you are entitled to the same rights as an employee. 

My advice to you, as an independent contractor worried about your job, seek legal assistance. Tell them the particulars of your job and what you did for the employer. Depending on your particulars, you may havethe same entitlements as an employee.