Independent Contractors vs. Employees: An In-Depth Look at Workers Compensation Eligibility in Tampa, Florida

The distinction between an independent contractor and an employee is important when it comes to receiving benefits in terms of Florida’s workers compensation law. This blog post will provide clarity on workers compensation eligibility of independent contractors and employees and how a Tampa workers comp attorney can help.

Distinction Between Employees and Independent Contractors

Employees are individuals who entered into an employment contract with an employer. This contract can be expressly stated or implied by action.

The employer will have control over the manner and means of work that an employee performs and will instruct an employee to do specific tasks. Employees are paid a salary by an employer on an agreed time frame.

Independent contractors are self-employed and offer services for the clients relating to a specific task. A contract can be entered into between the individual performing the work and their client. Independent contractors will determine their own working hours and compensation and will be required to submit their own tax returns.

Factors Determining Your Classification

In Tampa, Florida Statute 440.02 uses several factors to distinguish between employees and independent contractors. These factors include:

  1. Control: The level of control the employer has over the work done is a significant factor. Employees are subject to their employer’s control and instruction. Employers will dictate the manner in which an employee performs their work, while independent contractors have more freedom to decide how to complete their tasks.
  2. Payment Method: Employees are paid a regular wage or salary on an agreed upon timeframe, while independent contractors are typically paid per job or task completed.
  3. Tools and Equipment: If the employer provides the tools and equipment necessary to perform the work, the worker is more likely to be considered an employee. Independent contractors usually supply their own equipment to complete a task.
  4. Right to Hire or Fire: Employers have the right to hire or dismiss employees, while independent contractors are hired for a specific project or period and may not be fired as long as they meet the contract terms.

Workers Compensation Eligibility

In Florida, the workers compensation system is a form of insurance designed to protect employees who are injured or become ill while performing their duties. It is a no-fault system, meaning that an employee can receive benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury or illness.

These benefits can include coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits if the worker is unable to return to work.

only W-2 employees have the right to file workers comp claims

Employees

Employees are entitled to receive workers compensation benefits as long as they are able to prove that the injury they have suffered is a direct result of performing their duties. The injury would have occurred during working hours and can either be onsite or offsite as long as the employee was conducting their work duties.

An employee can also claim benefits if they are able to prove that they have been exposed to a harmful substance at work.

Independent Contractors

Independent contractors are considered to be self-employed and will not be entitled to receive workers compensation benefits. Independent contractors will need to carry their own insurance cover in order to receive benefits if they are injured on the job.

The importance of correctly classifying an individual as an independent contractor is of utmost importance. If the classification is incorrect, an injured employee will be entitled to institute a claim for workers compensation benefits.

Legal Requirements in Florida

According to Florida Statute 440.02, non-construction industry employers with four or more full-time or part-time employees, regardless of whether the employee(s) is working at the employer’s physical location or remotely, must provide coverage for all employees.

Construction industry employers with one or more full-time or part-time employees must provide coverage for all employees. Farmers with six or more regular employees and/or 12 or more seasonal employees who work for 30 or more days must provide coverage for all employees.

Out-of-state employers engaged in work in Florida must immediately notify their insurance carrier that they have employees working in Florida. An out-of-state employer who has employees working in Florida must have a Florida workers compensation insurance policy or an endorsement must be added to the out-of-state policy that lists Florida in section 3.A. of the policy.

The Importance of Correct Classification

Incorrectly classifying an employee as an independent contractor will have severe repercussions for an employer. Penalties include being held liable for injury compensation, back taxes and financial penalties. Businesses need to ensure that workers are correctly classified in order to avoid legal repercussions.

Contact a Tampa Workers Comp Lawyer for Help

If you are unsure whether you were correctly classified by your employer, understanding the key differences between these categories of workers is essential to making sure your rights are protected and that your workers compensation eligibility is respected in case of injury.

For immediate legal assistance if you were injured on the job and aren’t sure how to apply for benefits, contact a Tampa workers comp attorney at Work Injury Rights right away.

Contact us at 954-324-COMP to set up your consultation.