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What happens if a misclassified worker gets hurt on the job?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2023 | Employment Law |

Businesses are always on the lookout for ways to reduce their operational costs. Given that labor is often one of the biggest recurring expenses a company has, it makes sense that for-profit organizations often look for ways to reduce their staffing costs. The costs of hiring and training workers are expenses that businesses can’t avoid, but they can find ways to minimize how much each addition to their workforce costs the company.

Many businesses in recent years have tried classifying workers that they treat like employees as independent contractors. They have the workers sign papers identifying themselves as self-employed and complete different tax forms than the average employee.

By doing so, the company can eliminate many of its obligations to that worker, and the worker is the one who largely accepts most of the risks. What happens if you work for a company that calls you an independent contractor and you get hurt at work or diagnosed with a job-related medical issue?

You may need professional support

In theory, workers’ compensation coverage is available to all California employees, regardless of their profession, their wages or their seniority. However, misclassified workers seem to be independent contractors on paper and therefore do not have the protection of workers’ compensation coverage the way that other workers would.

It may be necessary for an independent contractor who believes they are technically an employee to report the misclassification to the state. If a state review determines that they were in fact an employee, they could secure benefits despite not initially having coverage. Their employer may also face consequences related to their misclassification of workers, including tax penalties for failing to contribute their share of payroll taxes.

Employment law claims require patience and clarity

You need to know your rights under the law and understand how your employer may have violated them if you want to hold the company accountable. The more you learn about your rights and how workers’ compensation functions in California, the better your chances of holding your employer accountable for misclassifying you and thereby denying you key employment benefits.

Learning more about workers’ compensation and similar employment law concerns can protect you after an injury on the job.