Employee or Independent Contractor?

     The classification protocols for being an employee versus an independent contractor has become a hot topic in the working world. According to a recent blog post from the U.S. Department of Labor, titled The Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “Suffer or Permit” Standard in the Identification of Employees Who Are Misclassified as Independent Contractors, the misclassification of employees has been increasing. It causes some workers to be denied certain protections, lower tax revenues for government, and it is unfair to other companies who do correctly classify their workers. The post reviewed six major points called, “economic realities” that determine whether or not a worker can be classified as either an employee or an independent contractor. One of the main differences between the two is that an employee should be someone who is economically dependent on the employer, and an independent contractor should be someone who is in business for themselves.

     There are a few main benefits that distinguish an employee from an independent contractor. An employee has the right to the protections warranted under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). This includes minimum wage, overtime compensation, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. Independent contractors do not have these same benefits. In some cases, instead of independent contractors these individuals can be classified as, “owners,” partners,” or even, “members of a limited liability company.” Some companies that classify their workers as independent contractors include Uber, Lyft, and FedEx.

     Almost anyone can become a Lyft driver, and it has become a very popular service in Philadelphia. Many of my past Lyft drivers have been college students looking to make a few extra bucks. As always, it’s important to be aware of these differences and know the risks and protections that your job offers.