The general rule is that independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they get injured on the job. The right to benefits is reserved for employees. However, some independent contractors end up getting benefits. The reason? They’re not actually independent contractors, at least not in the eyes of Illinois workers’ compensation law.
Just because you are paid as an independent contractor, and your employer calls you a contractor, doesn’t mean that you are. The law looks at several factors in determining whether you’re an employee or a contractor. It comes down to the details of your relationship with your employer.
The more control your employer has over you, the more likely it is that you are technically an employee. If your employer sets your schedule, assigns you clients, gives you a uniform, provides the supplies/tools/equipment you use to do your job, or provides a work vehicle, it might indicate that you are not as independent as you (or your boss) thought. Not all of these things have to be true in your case, and there are other factors that can tip the scale one way or the other, but if your employer tells you how to do the specifics of your job, you might be an employee.
It’s to an employer’s benefit to label someone as an independent contractor. Overall, it’s cheaper for them. Make sure your employer isn’t labeling you as such just because it’s better for them. If you are actually an employee, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits – including payment of medical bills and lost wages – if you get hurt at work. If you have a question about your status as an independent contractor in Illinois, let us know. If you truly are an independent contractor and you get injured on the job, you might have a personal injury lawsuit if someone else’s negligence caused your injury.
Written by Michael Helfand