As employers seek to maximize profits and reduce business costs, some make cuts by reducing the number of "employees" on their books. The Illinois Department of Labor monitors these shifts in staffing. When employers reclassify employees as independent contractors or replace them with temp workers, it could be a case of employee misclassification designed to minimize employee-related responsibilities and expenses. Cost-saving measures become a problem when a worker is hurt on the job and probably not covered by the employer's workers' compensation plan. Woodstock employers using this tactic force workers to hire a worker compensation attorney in Woodstock to get benefits.
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Misclassified employees continue performing their usual duties, but they become independent contractors with few benefits. Sometimes they are replaced by temp agency workers. Class changes reduce the overall value of an employee's compensation package. Independent and temp workers rarely qualify for benefits, some of which are mandatory for employees.
- Medical coverage
- Unemployment Compensation
- Sick pay
- Workers' Compensation
Employers save big dollars
Misclassified workers who are injured on the job might not receive the workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled. The IDOL assesses fines against employers who intentionally misclassify employees to eliminate benefits. Still, employers continue the practice as it reduces business expenses. Reduced costs give businesses a competitive financial edge. They perform services and produce goods at a lower cost, so they sell more. Unfortunately, this marketing benefit could be at the expense of the employees who perform the work.
Employee misclassification is more than a simple paperwork mistake. It's a move that saves employers the cost of federal and state tax withholding, social security, minimum wage compliance, and worker's compensation and other insurance premiums. It shifts the responsibility for coverage from the employer to the employee. For an independent contractor injured on the job, these missing benefits can have life-changing consequences. While a properly classified working employee hired by a Woodstock employer will be placed in line for workers' compensation benefits, a misclassified employee may need to hire a worker compensation attorney in Woodstock to get the benefits they deserve.
When an improperly classified employee is injured on the job
An OSHA study determined that non-employee temp workers were sometimes put in place to avoid employer health and safety obligations. Non-employees were often not provided the same protection and safety measures as employees. They were also placed in the more dangerous jobs and often did not receive adequate training to perform assigned tasks. Because of this failure to protect workers, injuries are more common. In one 2014 work-related incident, an Illinois temp worker was killed after falling from a roof.
As workers' compensation coverage is mandatory only for "employees," it doesn't apply to those who are classified as independent contractors or temp workers. Temp workers are the responsibility of the agency that placed them in the job, so they may have the workers' compensation benefits they need. Also, the U.S. DOL has mandated that temp agencies and the businesses that employ temp workers are jointly responsible for health, safety and working conditions.
Unfortunately, when an independent contractor incurs medical bills, lost wages, is disabled or has other economic losses due to a job-related injury, the options are limited.
- The Illinois Department of Labor has a complaint process that might get results.
- The employer might be found guilty of misdemeanor criminal charges.
- The injured worker retains the right to hire a worker compensation attorney in Woodstock to sue the employer for damages.
- If an injured employee works for a construction company, Illinois law presumes that the worker is an employee entitled to employee benefits.
Employee or Contractor?
Employee classification determines whether or not an employer will file a workers' compensation claim on an injured worker's behalf. As misclassification can create ongoing problems, it's important to find out about classification issues before an injury occurs on the job and a worker is forced to fight for benefits. Fortunately, the employee vs non-employee issue is not always left up to the employer.
Labor agencies examine the actual employment situation to make the determination independent of an employer's classification. The answers to these questions can determine if a worker is, in fact, an employee or an independent contractor.
- Who controls a worker's actions?
- Are non-employee job duties part of the employer's "usual course of business"?
- Does the non-employee perform an independent trade or occupation?
- Does the non-employee run his own business?
When an employer refuses to file a workers' compensation claim
If a Woodstock employer refuses to submit a workers' compensation case because of a classification issue, an independent contractor or temp worker can contact a worker compensation attorney in Woodstock to pursue the claim. A non-employee worker has the right to file a negligence suit against the employer. A worker compensation attorney in Woodstock can help the employee prove the employer was legally responsible for causing the injury.