The gig economy is a term used to describe an emerging company model for hiring workers. Companies hire short-term workers, independent contractors, or freelancers to take on many of the same tasks as employees. Uber and Lyft are notorious for classifying drivers as independent contractors.
For many people looking to earn a living, gig work is the only quick and viable option. For some, the idea of working flexibly and independently is more appealing than the traditional 9-5 schedule.
Many companies hire gig workers in order to save money. If a worker isn't classified as an employee, companies aren't responsible for paying for benefits, such as workers' compensation.
According to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, employees are often misclassified as independent contractors in The Keystone State. In fact, between 10-20 employers misclassify at least one employee.
What's the difference between employees & independent contractors?
- Protected by state, federal, local labor, and employment laws
- Entitled to minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation
- May have additional benefits, such as paid sick leave, vacation, health insurance, and retirement
- Have the right to unionize or take collective action for better pay and work conditions
- Must purchase their own insurance and pay self-employment taxes
- Not protected by federal, state, local labor, or employment laws
- Not entitled to minimum wage
- Cannot unionize or take collective action
Who is the most at risk of misclassification?
According to the Attorney General, construction workers are the most at risk of being misclassified as independent contractors. Pennsylvania construction workers are protected under Act 72, which asserts that they cannot be independent contractors unless they:
- Have a written contract with the person or business contracting them
- Control or direct their own work
- Possess the tools needed to perform the job
- Have a business arrangement that allows them to profit or suffer loss
- Are owners or partners in a business
- Have a business location separate from the business or person contracting them
- Have previously worked as independent contractors or made themselves available as independent contractors when looking for work
If you were hurt on the job, it's critical that you know your rights. Workers who legally meet the criteria of employees are eligible for workers' compensation benefits. This would cover your medical expenses and wage loss while you're unable to work.
The Scranton attorneys at O'Malley & Langan Law Offices can help you get started on your claim. Our firm has helped injured workers obtain benefits for more three decades. Contact us online to find out how we can help you.