There are about 70 million freelancers in the United States, many of whom are in California. Google now has more freelancers than full-time employees, and many companies are following suit. Freelancers enjoy the freedom of making their own schedules, working remotely, and often taking on several projects at once to supplement income. However, how does the law protect freelancers?
While freelancers enjoy many benefits, they also may have fewer protections under the law. Anyone with legal concerns should speak with a San Francisco employment lawyer right away,
The whole point of being a freelance or independent contractor is that you are not an employee. You are usually a temporary worker, hired probably by the project, and can come and go with no additional obligations on either side once a project is completed and paid.
Although it is not always required, an independent contractor will often sign a contract laying out the terms of the relationship for the project or term. It defines the work performed, the ownership of the work (i.e., in cases of intellectual property), and the payment terms for the contract and will state the relationship between the parties expressly.
Independent contractors do have the right to work and the right to choose the work they do. While an employee has to undertake virtually any task assigned, an independent contractor can say no to any given project offered. This aspect of being an independent contractor allows the individual to exercise far greater control over the amount and the kind of work they do. It also allows the freelance or independent contractor to control what they get paid for a given job. If the money offered is not enough, they can simply turn down the project.
Freelance writers, contractual short-term project workers, and temps are all independent contractors (although some may be agency employees). They have flexibility and choice but very little in the way of benefits or protected rights.
A vital right freelancers do have is the right to correct classification. If you meet the criteria of an employee, for example the company controls what you do and how you do your, you may be misclassified. For example, early Microsoft temps were ultimately classified as employees after extensive litigation and received stock options worth huge sums.
Employees get benefits and have taxes withheld from their paychecks. Independent contractors, in contrast, are responsible for their own insurance and taxes.
Independent contractors can work where they like rather than in a specific location every day. Many freelancers work from home and work the hours that suit them.
Many states and the federal Department of Labor are working to make it much more challenging to classify individuals as independent contractors. This effort is viewed as an attempt to provide the benefits of employment to more individuals. Still, some independent contractors are fighting to keep that status, desiring the flexibility and freedom of independent contractor status.
Independent contractor status is an issue with strong proponents on all sides. If you have questions, you should contact an employment law attorney at Minnis & Smallets as soon as possible. You may be missing out on benefits that you could be receiving.
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