How do I know if I’m being correctly classified as an independent contractor?

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How do I know if I’m being correctly classified as an independent contractor?

I work as a caddie at a golf course. We are all independent contractors. We get notice the night before of our set tee time for a job the next day. We are required by our contract to show up 45 minutes early and sit there and wait. We are also required to show up on days where we don’t have a set time. We have to come in and wait unpaid for 1.5 hour periods just in case someone needs our services. If we don’t we face possible termination of the contact. Also, we are required to purchase our uniforms with the club logo and shaving and haircut requirements. I just want to know if this is normal.

Asked on January 13, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can find the longer, more detailed explanations of when someone is or is not an independent contractor on the U.S. Department of Labor and IRS websites. However, the shorter versions are: "if you are treated like an employee, you most likely are an employee," and "independent contractors are *independent*, at least to a reasonable degree." Based on what you write, you are most likely an employee: the employer controls exactly when you will work; they tell you when to show up and make you stay even when there is no work to do; they detail your dress code; they presumably "manage" you in the sense of telling you how to do the job. All those things are hallmarks of being employees, not independent contractors. (A classic IC is a webdesigner you hire to build a website for you--you tell them what you want, then they do the job within those parameters, working  where, when, and how they want.)
There is a good chance you have been mischaracterized and should have received pay and benefits like an employee, such as: health care, if offered to other course employees; having the employer pay the employer portion of medicare and social security taxes; having contributions made into the unemployment benefits system for you; possibly getting overtime when you work more than 40 hours in a week. Based on what you write, it would seem to be worth it for you contact the state department of labor about the situation.


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