At the Law Office of Marc Francis, serving the greater Santa Rosa Area and all of Sonoma, Napa, Marin and Mendocino Counties, we often receive calls from injured workers who have been told, usually incorrectly, that they are not entitled to medical treatment or disability benefits for their work injuries because they were working as ‘independent contractors.’
Perhaps the employer is simply attempting to persuade you to not file a claim, so that they won’t have to report the claim to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Or perhaps the employer has failed to purchase a policy of workers’ compensation insurance. Or perhaps the employer really does believe that they have taken necessary legal steps to have their workers classified as ‘independent contractors’.
Usually, the injured worker is in fact an employee under California law, with rights to workers compensation benefits, minimum wage, and overtime. In the current ‘gig economy’ where many workers perform jobs that are flexible in terms of hours and locations, and often short in duration, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to want to hire ‘contractors’ instead of employees. That’s because it saves them lots of money if they don’t have to pay the cost of your medical treatment or disability benefits if you are injured on the job.
California law is actually well settled in this area and most disputed cases are decided in favor of employee, not independent contractor, status.
So how can you tell if you are an employee, entitled to workers compensation medical treatment and disability benefits for a work injury?
Who had control over how the work was to be done? Who determined when and where the work was to be done? Who provided tools? Who provided equipment, such as vehicles? Who provided supplies or materials needed to do the work?
Other factors that the court will consider in determining whether a worker was in fact an employee entitled to workers compensation benefits include: skill requirements, pre-work training or education, whether the pay for the work was negotiable or whether it was a fixed hourly rate, or fixed fee for service, and whether special licenses, permits, or certificates were required for the work.
Generally speaking, if your boss told you what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and where to do it, especially if they provided tools, equipment or supplies, you are an employee and not a contractor.
There have been recent court cases involving delivery drivers who were told they were contractors but who were found after litigation to be employees.
At the Law Offices of Marc Francis we are here to help. Give us a call and we can discuss the particular facts of your work injury and see that you receive the medical treatment and disability benefits to which you are entitled under California law.