Worker’s Comp and Independent Contractors

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is designed to protect employees from the risks inherent in their line of work. It makes sure employees are covered if they suffer an injury by holding employers responsible for covering the costs. However, independent contractors aren’t covered by the provisions under Illinois workers’ compensation law, so if they’re injured on the job, they’ll need to find some other way of paying their bills.

The Role of Independent Contractors

An employee’s role is fairly straightforward: you’re hired by a company to work certain hours and perform certain responsibilities. An independent contractor, on the other hand, is typically their own employer. As such, they hire out their services to clients, but aren’t considered to be an employee of those clients.

For instance, a graphic design artist who performs design work for multiple companies would likely be an independent contractor. Their services are based on a per-job basis rather than a set salary or hourly wage, and they have full control of their work hours and methods. Since they aren’t strictly employees of any particular company, they aren’t covered by workers’ compensation benefits.

Independent Contractors Vs. Employees

The line between independent contractors and employees can be a bit blurry at times, especially in cases where someone contracts to work with one company exclusively. However, there are some significant differences between the two.

The first of these is the matter of control. An employer has a lot of control over and employee’s hours, methods, and work environment, whereas they have less control over those of an independent contractor. Contractors frequently work where they want when they want. The main expectation is that each job is completed well and on time.

Another large difference is the matter of taxes. Employees fill out a form I-9 and get a W-2, whereas an independent contractor would fill out a W-9. In addition, taxes are typically withheld from an employee’s earnings, while independent contractors are responsible for their own taxes.

The final difference is a bit more vague, but in general, employees and contractors have different relationships with employers. An employee works under a specific contract and may get additional benefits, while an independent contractor may only be contracted for a finite period of time and receive no special benefits.

Finding Whether You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation

While the distinction is often clear, it may not necessarily be easy to tell the difference in some cases, especially when employers refer to their employees as contractors. They may do this in an effort to avoid workers’ compensation obligations, but an employer can’t assign these roles based on their own convenience. Illinois workers’ compensation law has guidelines that determine who is an independent contractor and who is an employee.

Even with those legal distinctions, it still may not be clear to some. If your employer has rejected a workers’ compensation claim on the basis that you are not an employee, your best course is typically to contact an attorney. They’ll be able to bring their experience to the table and assess whether you qualify for benefits or not. Hart David Carson LLP provides legal assistance for those who are seeking worker’s comp benefits, and we can guide you through the process of filing a claim.

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