The definition of an employee is evolving as gig workers and independent contractors discover the benefits of working on their own. No longer do the old nine-to-five Monday through Friday standards fit many of today’s workers. Unfortunately, West Virginia employers do not always keep up with these kinds of changes, leading to the misclassification of many workers. This can leave some workers fighting for the most basic rights due to an employee.
Misclassification occurs when an employer does not recognize a worker as meeting the definition of an employee. For example, an employer may classify a worker as an independent contractor when, in fact, that worker is legally an employee. Misclassification results in the loss of many rights and benefits, including:
- Receiving a minimum wage and qualifying for overtime pay
- Having coverage for injuries under an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance
- Qualifying for unemployment benefits if the job ends
- Maintaining job security when an assignment is complete
- Receiving other employment benefits, such as vacation pay and medical leave
In fact, some employers may intentionally misclassify workers to avoid paying for these benefits as well as paying the appropriate taxes. Despite classifying a worker as an independent contractor, the employer may still maintain the kind of control over the worker that an employee receives, such as directing how a worker should do the work, the tools to use and the hours a worker must keep. As the laws continue to modify the definition of an employee, workers should be alert to misclassification and other violations of their employment rights.