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I was offered a job on the premise it was a full-time permanent position. A week after I was working there, I was told that I was not a permanent employee but a contractor. However, I am being paid an hourly wage, work at their offices, use their equipment and told what work to do and when it has to be done by. I am also not getting the hours of a full-time employee. I am told to get the work done within a certain timeframe then when it is done, I must go home and take a day off. Where do I stand in this situation?
Asked on October 10, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 3 years ago | Contributor
1) The issue is not "full-time" vs. contractor: you can have full-time employees or part-time, and similarly, you can have independent contractors who work a full-time schedule and ones who do not.
2) There is no guaranty of "full-time hours" as either employee or contractor: employers can set the hours for their worker at whatever amount they want, and can tell workers, whether employees or contractors, to go home when the work is done, or to no come in when there is no work for them.
3) All the above said, there is a difference between employees and contractors: employees get more legal protections (e.g. from employment discrimination, the use of FMLA leave, etc.), may get benefits like vacation or sick days, or health insurance (if offered to any of the business's employees), and employers have to pay the employer portion of social security, medicare, etc. tax for them. Non-exempt employees are also eligible for overtime and must earn at least minimum wage.
An independent contractor is, as the term implies, "independent" to a great degree: a contractor typically provides his/her own tools/equipment, has a great deal of control over where and when the work is done (as long as he/she meets the deadlines), determines how he/she works, and is essentially his/her own "business" providing services to the client who hires them.
Conversely, if the employer sets your hours, tells you where to work and how to do the job, and provides your equipment, you are most likely an employee.
If you believe you are really an employee but have been "mischaracterized" or "misclassified" as a contractor, contract the department of labor to inquire into filing a complaint.