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Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld

Relentlessly Protecting California Workers' Rights Since 1956

Understanding Independent Contractors and Workers’ Compensation in California

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At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our Santa Barbara attorneys know multiple connections exist between California employment and workers’ compensation laws.

One of the most common legal threads is that California law requires companies to provide employees with workers’ compensation benefits. However, some employers misclassify employees as independent contractors to evade responsibility for work-related injuries, making them ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

In September 2019, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) into law. The law addresses workers’ “employment status” when the hiring entity claims the worker is an independent contractor, not an employee. AB 5 requires applying the “ABC test” to determine if workers in California are employees or independent contractors for purposes of the Labor Code.

Here is what that means for injured independent contractors throughout the state.

Are Independent Contractors Eligible to Pursue California Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Independent contractors in California are generally not eligible for workers’ compensation coverage.

These individuals are considered self-employed and responsible for their insurance and tax liabilities, which means they must use their insurance or personal funds to cover their medical expenses if injured on the job.

What Happens When Employees are Misclassified as Independent Contractors to Avoid Access to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Employee misclassification is unlawful in California and can lead to more than losing workers’ compensation benefits.

Misclassification also keeps employees from pursuing the following legal entitlements:

  • Minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.
  • Rest and meal breaks or pay for working through either.
  • Medical leave and paid time off.
  • Payroll taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes.
  • Health insurance requirements.
  • Unemployment, disability, and workers’ compensation insurance.

When an employee suffers a work-related accident or becomes ill due to conditions at work, their employer’s workers’ compensation coverage provides compensation for their recovery needs.

That may include:

  • Medical care.
  • Supplemental job displacement benefits.
  • Return-to-work supplement.
  • Temporary disability benefits.
  • Permanent disability benefits.
  • Death benefits.

If you have been hurt at work and believe your employer has misclassified your employment to avoid paying the benefits you deserve, contact our skilled California workers’ compensation attorneys to ensure you have access to each of the benefits you are entitled to so you can get your life back on track.

We have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the laws that impact your employment and well-being.

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