Be Your Own Boss?
What distinguishes an employee from an independent contractor is very context-driven and can vary widely depending on whether the purpose is to determine liability under Worker’s Compensation, discrimination, wage and hour, immigration, intellectual property, or local, state and/or federal tax laws. Generally speaking, under California law, persons are presumed to be employees so that Worker’s Compensation benefits, the right to a workplace free from discrimination and minimum wages are guaranteed, and so employers can be relied upon to properly withhold and pay income, social security, Medicare and unemployment taxes.
Employers, or any other principal seeking to avoid liability, have the burden of proving that persons whose services have been retained are independent contractors rather than employees. Although the factors considered are numerous and, generally, only illustrative, they tend to center around questions regarding the level of control exercised over the means by which the work was accomplished, the amount and kind of training the principal offered the worker, the length and type of relationship between the parties, the skills required to perform the services, and whether the particular tasks performed are typical to the business operations of the principal. As you can see, given this highly fact-based analysis, the answer to whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor can vary significantly from case to case.
This information is for illustrative and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice, the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, or as indicative of a particular outcome regarding any legal issue you might have.