Employee vs. Contractor: How to tell the difference


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Employee vs. Contractor:
How to tell the difference

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Employee vs. Contractor: How to tell the difference

  1. 1. John Boggs Fine, Boggs & Perkins LLP March 8, 2012 Employee vs. Contractor: How to tell the difference
  2. 2. Speakers Moderator Presenter Becky Ross Marketing Manager 303-228-8753 bross@kpaonline.com John P. Boggs, Esq. Fine, Boggs & Perkins LLP 650-712-8908 jboggs@employerlawyers.com
  3. 3. Questions • If you have questions during the presentation, please submit them using the “Questions” feature • Questions will be answered at the end of the webinar
  4. 4. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – BREAKING NEWS!!! Brinker/Brinkley Cases Meal Breaks and Rest Periods 4 #1 Basis for Wage/Hour Suits Against Dealers • 30 minutes for each five hours, unless less then six or less than 12 hours (can be waived only if first not waived). • Must clock in and out or at the very least keep a record that the lunch break was taken • 10 minute rest period (paid) for each four hours of employment
  5. 5. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – BREAKING NEWS!!! Brinker/Brinkley Cases Meal Breaks and Rest Periods 5 • Then, in July 2008, a California court of appeal denied class certification for almost 60,000 restaurant employees because the lower court did not properly consider the elements of the employees' claims in determining if they were susceptible to class treatment. Specifically, the court found that: – While employers cannot impede, discourage or dissuade employees from taking rest periods, they need only provide, not ensure, rest periods are taken. – Employers need only authorize and permit rest periods every four hours or major fraction thereof and they need not, where impracticable, be in the middle of each work period. – Employers are not required to provide a meal period for every five consecutive hours worked. – While employers cannot coerce, require or compel employees to work off the clock, they can only be held liable for employees working off the clock if they knew or should have known they were doing so. • Because rest and meal breaks need only be made available and not ensured, the court also found that individual issues predominate and, based upon the evidence presented to the trial court, they are not amenable to class treatment. • Further, the off-the-clock claims are also not amenable to class treatment because individual issues predominate on the issues of whether employees were forced to work off the clock, whether the employer changed time records and whether the employer knew or should have known employees were working off the clock. Brinker v. Superior Court 165 Cal. App. 4th 25 (2008) • This case was appealed to the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court currently has the case.
  7. 7. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – WHY IS MISCLASSIFICATION IMPORTANT? The Department of Labor (DOL) announced that $12 million of its 2011 budget will go towards increasing enforcement of wage and overtime laws involving misclassification of employees. The U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis addressed the need to "secure minimum and overtime wages and to help middle class families remain in the middle class. Working on the issue of misclassification is key to attaining those goals because misclassification of employees as independent contractors deprives employees of critical workplace protections and employment benefits to which they are legally entitled." 7
  8. 8. Independent Contractor Misclassification - (SB 459) New law significantly INCREASES the PENALTIES for WILLFULLY MISCLASSIFYING employees as an “independent contractor.” “Willful misclassification” means “avoiding employee status for an individual by voluntarily and knowingly misclassifying that individual as an independent contractor.” Employers are also prohibited from attempting to assess charges or fees against the misclassified worker if doing so would not be permitted had the classification been accurate.
  9. 9. Independent Contractor Misclassification - (SB 459) – cont’d What happens if you violate these new rules?  Subject to penalties of up to $25,000.  In addition, an employer that is found guilty of willful misclassification by the Labor and Workforce Development Agency or a court will be required to prominently post information about the violation for two years on its website, and in an area available to both employees and the general public. Be careful with Dealer Trade Drivers and Tent Sales!
  10. 10. Who is an independent contractor? (1099 contractor) Independent Contractor is Non-employment relationship. Example: Hire a dealer trade driver vs. Hiring an plumber to come fix a water leak Employment Relationship • Full-Time • Part-Time • Temporary • Seasonal
  11. 11. Reasons for Using Independent Contractors • Savings on workers’ comp, unemployment, payroll taxes • Short-term specialty work • Overhead savings • No risk of employment liability • No vicarious liability for their acts • Income tax evasion (please don’t!)
  12. 12. Risks of Being Wrong • Workers’ comp; • Unemployment compensation liability • Back income tax withholding • Back minimum wage and overtime • Back benefit payments • Liability for claims not covered by insurance • Negligence to a third party • PLUS SIGNIFICANT FINES AND PENALTIES
  13. 13. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR TEST The IRS has established a 20-factor test for determining whether the requisite "right of control" exists. In applying this test, there is no magic number of factors that, if met, would automatically result in classifying the worker as an employee or independent contractor. Each relationship must be examined and evaluated on its unique facts separately to determine a worker's status If the employer has the “right to control the manner and means of performing work”, the law holds that the servant is an employee, not an independent contractor
  14. 14. The following criteria are considered to be evidence of employee status by the IRS when evaluating an independent contractor issue: 1. Instructions -- A requirement that the worker must follow instructions concerning when, where, and how to perform the work. 2. Training -- The more training a worker receives by the host company, the more likely that worker will be viewed as an employee. 3. Integration of a worker's services with regular activities of the business. 4. Personal services -- A worker is required to render services personally. 5. Hiring, supervising, and paying assistants -- A service recipient hires, supervises, and pays the worker's assistants. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR TEST
  15. 15. 6. Continuing relationship -- Both the regularity and duration of the relationship are taken into consideration for purposes of this factor. 7. Set hours of work -- The worker is required to perform services during set hours. 8. Full time required -- The worker is required to devote his full time to a specific service recipient. 9. Performing work on employer's premises and/or using the service recipient's premises and office equipment. 10. Order or sequence set -- If a worker is required to perform tasks in a set way and must follow set routines and schedules. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR TEST
  16. 16. 11. Oral or written reports -- The fact that a worker is required to submit regular reports to the service recipient. 12. Payment at regular intervals (e.g., hour, week or month). 13. Payment of business and/or traveling expenses. 14. Furnishing of tools and materials. 15. Lack of investment by worker in the facilities and/or equipment used. 16. No realization of profit or loss; compensation for a worker's services at a fixed rate, regardless of the profitability of services performed. 17. Working for only one firm at a time. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR TEST
  17. 17. 18. At-will employment, the fact that a worker can be discharged at the will of the recipient. 19. Termination of relationship without liability; the fact that a worker has the right to terminate his relationship with the recipient at any time without incurring additional liability. 20. Services of the worker is unavailable to general public. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR TEST
  18. 18. Preponderance of Evidence Test Preponderance of Evidence Test: Which way do most of the factors indicate? Factors: – Control over means and methods of work – Integral part of business or special project – Permanency of contract – Method of pay: hourly or flat rate – Responsibility for equipment and supplies – Independence of business entity – Multiple or single client – Contractor’s risk of profit or loss
  19. 19. Department of Labor, Economic Reality Test • The “economic reality” test – Integration – Permanency – Investment – Control – Opportunity for profit and loss – Independence • Typical problems – Home workers – One-contract contractors – Dealer Trade Drivers – DMV Outsourcing
  20. 20. Other applicable and possible conflicting tests • EEOC – Discrimination claims • Social Security Administration – Liability for contributions • Department of Justice – Immigration and ADA claims • State Laws – Workers’ compensation – Unemployment compensation – State business licensing laws
  21. 21. California D.L.S.E Not all workers are employees as they may be volunteers or independent contractors. Employers oftentimes improperly classify their employees as independent contractors so that they, the employer, do not have to pay payroll taxes, the minimum wage or overtime, comply with other wage and hour law requirements such as providing meal periods and rest breaks, or reimburse their workers for business expenses incurred in performing their jobs. Additionally, employers do not have to cover independent contractors under workers’ compensation insurance, and are not liable for payments under unemployment insurance, disability insurance, or social security.
  22. 22. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – California D.L.S.E The state agencies most involved with the determination of independent contractor status are the Employment Development Department (EDD), which is concerned with employment-related taxes, and the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), which is concerned with whether the wage, hour and workers’ compensation insurance laws apply. There are other agencies, such as the Franchise Tax Board (FTB), Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), and the Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB), that also have regulations or requirements concerning independent contractors. Since different laws may be involved in a particular situation such as a termination of employment, it is possible that the same individual may be considered an employee for purposes of one law and an independent contractor under another law. 22
  23. 23. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – California D.L.S.E Because the potential liabilities and penalties are significant if an individual is treated as an independent contractor and later found to be an employee, each working relationship should be thoroughly researched and analyzed before it is established. There is a rebuttable presumption that where a worker performs services that require a license pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 7000, et seq., or performs services for a person who is required to obtain such a license, the worker is an employee and not an independent contractor. Labor Code Section 2750.5 23
  24. 24. California D.L.S.E. Q. How do I know if I am an employee or an independent contractor? A. There is no set definition of the term "independent contractor" and as such, one must look to the interpretations of the courts and enforcement agencies to decide if in a particular situation a worker is an employee or independent contractor. In handling a matter where employment status is an issue, that is, employee or independent contractor, DLSE starts with the presumption that the worker is an employee. Labor Code Section 3357. This is a rebuttable presumption however, and the actual determination of whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor depends upon a number of factors, all of which must be considered, and none of which is controlling by itself. Consequently, it is necessary to closely examine the facts of each service relationship and then apply the law to those facts. For most matters before the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), depending on the remedial nature of the legislation at issue, this means applying the "multi-factor" or the "economic realities" test adopted by the California Supreme Court in the case of S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v Dept. of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341.
  25. 25. California D.L.S.E. Q. The person I work for tells me that I am an independent contractor and not an employee. He does not make any payroll deductions or withholdings for taxes, social security, etc., when he pays me, and at the end of the year he provides me with an IRS form 1099 rather than a W-2. By paying me in this manner does it mean I am automatically an independent contractor? A. No. The fact that a person who provides services is paid as an independent contractor, that is, without payroll deductions and with income reported by an IRS form 1099 rather than a W-2, is of no significance whatsoever in determining employment status. Your employer cannot change your status from that of an employee to one of an independent contractor by illegally requiring you to assume a burden that the law imposes directly on the employer, that being, withholding payroll taxes and reporting such withholdings to the taxing authorities. Q. Does it make any difference if I am an employee rather than an independent contractor? A. Yes, it does make a difference if you are an employee rather than an independent contractor. California’s wage and hour laws (e.g., minimum wage, overtime, meal periods and rest breaks, etc.), and anti-discrimination and retaliation laws protect employees, but not independent contractors. Additionally, employees can go to state agencies such as DLSE to seek enforcement of the law, whereas independent contractors must go to court to settle their disputes or enforce other rights under their contracts.
  26. 26. California D.L.S.E. Q. When I started my current job my employer had me sign an agreement stating that I am an independent contractor and not an employee. Does this mean I am an independent contractor? A. No. The existence of a written agreement purporting to establish an independent contractor relationship is not determinative. The Labor Commissioner and courts will look behind any such agreement in order to examine the facts that characterize the parties’ actual relationship and make their determination as to employment status based upon their analysis of such facts and application of the appropriate law. Q. How can it be that the Labor Commissioner determined I was an employee with respect to a wage claim I filed and won, and the Employment Development Department (EDD) determined I was an independent contractor, and denied my claim for unemployment insurance benefits? A. There is no set definition of the term "independent contractor" for all purposes, and the issue of whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor depends upon the particular area of law to be applied. For example, in a wage claim where employment status is an issue, DLSE will often use the five-prong economic realities test to decide the issue. However, in a separate matter before a different state agency with the same parties and same facts, and employment status again being an issue, that agency may be required to use a different test, for example, the "control test," which may result in a different determination.
  27. 27. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – California D.L.S.E. Q. What can I do if my employer retaliates against me because I thought I was misclassified as an independent contractor and objected to not being paid overtime? A. If you are an employee and your employer discriminates or retaliates against you in any manner whatsoever, for example, he discharges you because you question him about your employment status, or about not being paid overtime, or because you file a claim or threaten to file a claim with the Labor Commissioner, you can file a discrimination/retaliation complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. In the alternative, you can file an action in court against your employer. 27
  28. 28. Temporary and Leased Employees • Staffing and temporary service agency is employer and independent contractor – Not the same as a “temporary employee” – Agency assumes all employment liabilities and responsibilities for legal compliance – Agency indemnifies the company for acts of the employee – Can be long-term full-time contracts – Joint Employer
  29. 29. Avoiding Employment Problems with Independent Contractors • Written contract • Require proof of insurance • Federal Tax I.D. Number (FEIN) • Check business license • Avoid over-controlling • Leave contractor free to work for others • Issue a 1099 MISC to the contractor • Obtain an indemnity agreement
  30. 30. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – Paid Internships or Unpaid Internships? The department notes that internships will most often be viewed as employment (and therefore subject to the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA), unless a test is met. The department will look at the following 6 criteria when applying the test: 1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment; 2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern; 33
  31. 31. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – Paid Internships or Unpaid Internships? 3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff; 4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 34
  32. 32. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – Paid Internships or Unpaid Internships? 6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship. If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the act's minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern. This exclusion from the definition of employment is necessarily quite narrow because the FLSA's definition of “employ” is very broad, the department says. 35
  33. 33. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – California Law Is Different Intern Programs. – Historically, DLSE has required that in order to be exempt from the wage and hour requirements of the IWC Orders, the intern’s training must be an essential part of an established course of an accredited school or of an institution approved by a public agency to provide training for licensure or to qualify for a skilled vocation or profession. The program may not be for the benefit of any one employer, a regular employee may not be displaced by the trainee, and the training must be supervised b y the school o r a disinterested agency. (O.L. 1996.12.30) 36
  34. 34. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – California Law Is Different 46.6.7 All Training Programs, Lectures, Meetings, Etcetera Which Do Not Meet The Above Criteria Are Hours Worked. If any one of the above listed criterion is not met, the time is to be considered “hours worked”. Independent Training. If an employee on his own initiative attends an independent school, college or independent trade school after hours, the time is not hours worked for his employer even if the course is related to his or her job. 37
  35. 35. – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – Questions and Answers 38 John P. Boggs, Esq. Fine, Boggs & Perkins LLP (650) 712-8908 jboggs@employerlawyers.com
  36. 36. Contact Information – KPA CONFIDENTIAL – 39 The recorded webinar and presentation slides will be emailed to you today including your local representative’s contact information. www.kpaonline.com bross@kpaonline.com 866-356-1735