From freelance writers to Uber drivers to independent web designers, roughly a third of American workers are independent contractors, at least on the side. Many traditional employment rights, such as a minimum wage, overtime pay, and sexual harassment protection, do not apply to most freelancers. Nevertheless, as outlined below, these people still have important legal rights.
Many companies try to take advantage of independent contractors. If that happens, an Illinois business attorney stands up for you. In short, we know the law, and we know how to make it work for you. Such representation is important because the line between employee and independent contractor is often fuzzy.
Right to Challenge Your Legal Status
We’ll start with the big one. Companies cannot unilaterally label workers as employees or independent contractors. Many companies misclassify employees in this way to circumvent workers’ compensation laws. Instead, according to the IRS, a number of factors distinguish employees from independent contractors. Some of these factors include:
- Control over one’s own workload,
- The number of clients (employees have one client and independent contractors have more than one),
- Training provided, and
- Control over work location.
These factors, and others like them, are all weighted equally. One is not more important than another.
Right to Hire Other Contractors
White-collar independent contractors, like freelance writers and designers, encounter this issue quite frequently. If a client insists that one person perform all work, that insistence could affect the freelancer’s legal status. Contractors have an absolute right to subcontract some, most, or all of the work to another person or entity. Any limitation on that right could affect independent contractor status.
Right to Set Payment Terms
Somewhat similarly, many clients set payment terms (e.g. payments are made monthly, weekly, or biweekly). Generally, only employers have such power. A true independent contractor has the right to set payment terms and frequency. Additionally, if an employer does not pay, Illinois’ payday law usually applies. If an independent contractor’s client does not pay, the contractor may file an action in court.
Right to Advertise
Some clients require independent contractors to sign noncompetition agreements and nondisclosure agreements. These contacts limit the contractor’s ability to advertise his/her services or obtain work from another client. Arguably, these limitations mean that the worker is an employee as opposed to an independent contractor.
Right to Control Workflow
Employees have set hours. They must be in an office, or in a remote workstation, at certain times. Some clients issue similar directives. They require contractors to be “available” at certain times. Once again, these restrictions blur the line between employees and independent contractors. Furthermore, contractors have the right to work where they want to work. In the coronavirus era, some employers offer workers the option of working from an office or working from home. Depending on the overall environment, that option could transform workers from employees into independent contractors.
Rely on a Dedicated Attorney
Independent contractors in Illinois have important legal rights. For a free consultation with an experienced Rockford business lawyer near me, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. After-hours, virtual, and home visits are available.