Workers’ Compensation and Misclassification

Injury Form

Illinois workers’ compensation law requires employers to cover medical expenses and lost time from work for employees who are injured on the job. This is done through insurance, which virtually all Illinois employers are required to carry. A high incidence of workplace accidents could cause their insurance premiums to go up, which is why they may try misclassifying their employees.

Types of Misclassification

There are two ways in which an employee may be misclassified:

  1. An employee may be misclassified as an independent contractor.
  2. An employee’s job description might be misreported to the employer’s insurance provider.

Classifying Employees as Independent Contractors

Since independent contractors aren’t covered by workers’ compensation, employers may try to classify their workers as such in order to avoid their responsibility to provide benefits. In addition, they may save on taxes and other costs as well.

Misreporting Job Descriptions

Another form of misclassification is when employers report employees by the wrong job description. A glaring example of this would be reporting dock workers as office employees. This wouldn’t necessarily allow them to deny benefits, but it could get them lower insurance premiums. However, in the event that a workplace accident does occur, there’s a high chance that the insurance company will discover its fraud.

Are You an Employee or a Contractor?

If you are classified as an independent contractor and are injured on the job, your employer has no obligation to cover your injuries. However, if you can prove that you have been misclassified, then you could make a case in favor of receiving workers’ compensation.

The following parameters are frequently used to determine if someone is an employee are not.


First, there’s the matter of how much control the employer has over how work is completed. If your employer sets your hours, provides your tools, and gives instructions on precisely how each job is to be done, then you may be an employee. On the other hand, if you set your own hours and have control over how you complete work, then you may be a contractor.

Payment Methods

The way payment works are also worth considering. If you have a salary or a biweekly paycheck with additional benefits provided by your employer, then you’re likely an employee. On the other hand, if you invoice your employer periodically and are responsible for paying quarterly taxes, then you likely operate as a contractor.

Working Relationship

Finally, there’s the nature of your relationship with your employer to consider. Independent contractors work for themselves and frequently perform work for multiple clients. On the other hand, an employee is subordinate to their employer, who could fire them at will.

Securing Workers’ Compensation If You’ve Been Misclassified

If you feel you have been misclassified as a contractor, you may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Doing so will require contacting an attorney, however, especially with how nebulous these classifications can get at times. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you file your claim and navigate the process of securing benefits.

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