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Do independent contractors have worker’s rights?

Over the last several years, the employment landscape has shifted drastically, with many people opting to work as independent contractors. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a useful option that provides sufficient income while offering flexibility that traditional employment does not. But gig work also has some fairly serious drawbacks, at least under current laws.

Working as an independent contractor removes many of the obligations an employer has to you as a worker because you usually do not qualify for many employee benefits. In many cases, working as an independent contractor allows your employer to exempt you from typical workers' compensation coverage, for instance.

It is also difficult to stand up for rights to fair overtime pay, because independent contracting usually means that you control when and how you do your work, depending on your field. You may still make a strong case if you can prove that your employer imposed unrealistic deadlines that required overtime because of high workload or other factors, but the legal grounds for a wage dispute over unpaid overtime are much less compelling.

Currently, some New Jersey lawmakers are considering altering state legislation to more evenly protect workers in the gig economy, but for now you must stand up for your own rights in this legal grey area. It is crucial that you carefully review the employment contract any time that you consider gig work. Pay particular scrutiny to the areas where your rights as a worker may get glossed over. Learning how to protect your own rights adds momentum to the movement to respect and protect all workers from unfair treatment.

Source: FindLaw, "The 7 Things You Need To Know To Thrive In The New "Gig Economy"," Peter Lane Taylor, accessed June 15, 2018

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