Florida Workers’ Compensation: What Independent Contractors Need to Know
Independent contractors comprise a growing segment of the workforce. These individuals — also referred to as consultants or freelancers – are hired to work on special projects, assist during peak business periods, and to perform services that are not part of the employer’s regular business. Because they are not considered company employees, they are not entitled to certain employer benefits. One of those valuable benefits is workers’ compensation insurance; without it, if a worker suffers an injury on the job, that individual is responsible for their own medical bills. If you are classified as an independent contractor in your work, it is important to understand exactly what that means in terms of your employment and to be sure this classification is appropriate.
Definition of an Independent Contractor in Florida
Typically, independent contractors are in an independent trade, profession, or business in which their services are offered to the general public. However, the determination as to whether these individuals are considered independent contractors or employees is based on several factors. In the state of Florida, the courts follow a “10-factor test” in deciding whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee, giving consideration to the following:
1) The level of control the employer has over the details of the work
2) Whether the employed individual is in a distinct occupation or business
3) If the work done in the locality is typically done by a specialist without supervision or under the employer’s direction
4) The required skill level of the given occupation
5) Whether the worker or the employee provides the tools, instrumentalities, and the place of work for the person doing the work
6) The length of time the person is employed
7) Whether the worker is paid by the time or by the job
8) If the work is part of the employer’s regular business
9) Whether both parties believe their relationship will be that of employer and employee
10) If the hiring party is in business or not
Misclassification of employees
In some situations, employers misclassify a worker as an independent contractor even though – by law – they are considered employees. The employer then has no obligation to provide workers’ compensation or overtime pay, among other things. Those workers classified as independent contractors may earn higher wages, but they assume responsibility for any medical bills incurred as a result of a workplace injury, and they do not recoup lost wages.
Prevention is the key
Independent contractors can take measures to ensure they are protected in the event of a work-related injury. Before finding yourself injured on the job, be sure you understand the terms of your employment and the benefits you will receive. If workers’ compensation is not part of your employment agreement, explore purchasing workers’ compensation insurance on your own. Some businesses, even require that independent contractors obtain own workers’ compensation insurance to avoid any potential liability for injuries.
Experience and skill in the area of workers’ compensation law
Independent contractors who believe they may be inappropriately classified in their employment relationships should seek professional legal counsel to explore the situation. Having an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law handling your case is critical to navigating this process and receiving the benefits you deserve. New Port Richey workers’ compensation attorney Joseph M. Rooth has the skills and experience you need, and handles each case personally, to ensure a favorable outcome. Conveniently located with offices in New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Seminole and Clearwater, attorney Rooth serves clients in New Port Richey and throughout the Tampa Bay area. To arrange for a free consultation, contact attorney Rooth at 727-849-3400 or online.