According to Illinois workers' compensation attorneys, an independent contractor is at a disadvantage, compared to a full-time employee, for several reasons. Full-time employees may experience more long-term security. They may also enjoy a variety of benefits that are not available to independent contractors. One of those benefits is workers' compensation for a work-related injury.
Eligibility for benefits
According to the Illinois Workers' Compensation and Occupational Diseases Act, an independent contractor is not deemed eligible for workers' compensation in the state. This fact, however, does not represent the end of the road for an Illinois worker who is considered an independent contractor, rather than a full-time employee.
The key question for a so-called independent contractor who sustains an on the job injury is whether or not the worker is actually an independent contractor. In other words, simply because it was communicated to an Illinois worker that he or she is an independent contractor, the courts may not agree. In fact, even a worker who uses a Form 1099 to file taxes may not be classified by the courts as an independent contractor, Illinois workers' compensation attorneys would say.
Circumstances of employment
Instead of merely asking an employer whether a given worker is an employee or an independent contractor, or identifying how the worker has filed his taxes, the circumstances of employment are carefully evaluated. Specifically, there are at least four points that will ultimately influence the employment category into which the courts will place the worker in question:
- Direction of control
- Resources provided by the employer
- Nature of compensation
- Language in agreements
These four points do not represent an exhaustive checklist for the courts, but they each can be indicative of whether the worker's category of employment is employee or independent contractor.
As a simplified rule of thumb, for example, the degree to which the employer controls who is hired for the position in question, as well as the degree to which he influences how the underlying work is performed, may be consequential to the court's evaluation. If the employer provides equipment or other resources to the worker, the latter may be more likely to be considered an employee.
Legal representation may help
Whether or not an injured worker can persuade the courts that he is an employee and, therefore, eligible for workers' compensation can have significant financial consequences. Doing so successfully may require an understanding of the finer points on which this evaluation may hinge. For this reason, injured workers in this situation may wish to consult with Illinois workers' compensation attorneys.