An independent contractor generally enjoys far more autonomy than an employee. Independent contractors have the discretion to accept or deny an assignment as they see fit, they may set their own schedule, and frequently will provide their services to more than one company at the same time.
Conversely, employees provide their services at the direction of the employer. Unlike the independent contractor, employees lack the ability to make their own schedule, primarily report to their employer’s place of business during regularly scheduled business hours, and rarely perform similar services for another employer simultaneously.
The two classifications also differ in their tax treatment and overtime treatment. An independent contractor will not have any tax or FICA withholding, unlike an employee. Moreover, independent contractors are paid in accordance with the terms of their contract, and are therefore not entitled to overtime pay. Conversely, employees who are not managers or supervisors are entitled to overtime pay when working in excess of 40 hours in a given work week.
Individuals classified as independent contractors are also not afforded the same benefits as employees, as is demonstrated in Lowman. They receive no employment benefits, such as health and disability insurance. Additionally, independent contractors cannot seek unemployment benefits and also cannot file a workers’ compensation claim if they are injured on the job. They also enjoy far less protection from unfair work practices than an employee and may not avail themselves of state and federal anti-discrimination and workplace safety laws.