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Understanding the Legal Benefits and Disadvantages to Working as an Employee or Independent Contractor.

The new economy has ushered in a variety of opportunities for talented freelancers who know how to market their skills to businesses.  It’s not a hard sell for many either as companies strive to remain competitive by cutting costs while still delivering on quality.  

Having the flexibility to bring on additional workers only during surge production periods helps companies save money and stay responsive to an ever-changing market.  While the benefits of outsourcing are abundant, many businesses will always prefer to hire conventional employees for certain positions.  Here is a brief synopsis of the benefits and disadvantages of both conventional employment and freelance work as they relate to employment law.  

Standard Employees

Advantages

The availability of corporate benefits is a key reason why you may choose conventional employment over freelancing.  You can expect companies to pay for all or part of your healthcare, workers’ compensation, social security and unemployment insurance.  Laws regulating these benefits offer some flexibility to small businesses that have less than 50 employees.

As an employee, you also have full rights under federal labor laws.  While companies can and do fire employees, they cannot legally terminate employment for a reason that is protected under the nation’s labor laws. If you believe that you’re facing a wrongful termination situation, give us a call, and we will review your case.  As a reminder, you cannot legally be fired for the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Veteran status
  • Citizenship
  • Genetic information

Disadvantages

Some disadvantages of being an employee rather than an independent contractor relate to company culture and management styles.  Employees are expected to be contributing members of teams that build brands through the development of distinct corporate cultures.  Depending on your manager’s leadership style, this often means following strict directions for how and where your work is accomplished.

 

Independent Contractors

Advantages

As a freelancer, you are almost expected to charge higher hourly rates than the ones that are used to calculate the salaries of conventional employees.  The extra money is to compensate you for using your own desk space, supplies and equipment to accomplish work.  You will also experience more autonomy when it comes to performing project tasks.  Working from satellite offices and other remote locations is common.

Disadvantages

Besides receiving no employment benefits, freelancers are not covered under labor laws. You won’t receive an employee handbook, but you’ll perform work according to an employment contract.  As an independent contractor, you’re usually accountable to clients for what you deliver per the contract and not necessarily how your work is accomplished.  This can be a source of contention for some company managers who want to direct your work or get you to do tasks that are not in your contract.  If you are accused of violating the terms of a freelance employment contract, contact us.  We can review your contract and advise you about the steps that you need to take to resolve the issue.

Final Thoughts

Choosing to work as an employee or a freelancer is a personal decision that takes into consideration your unique professional aspirations and work style.  Let us be your go-to resource for employment law questions about conventional employment and independent contracting gigs.  Contact Chamberlin Law Firm today.


Employment Law – Hiring, Firing and Everything In-between

Civil litigation comes in many forms. Torts, contracts, employment — these are potential areas of dispute. Knowing your rights and having a basic understanding of the law may protect you if you find yourself in a civil dispute. The same goes for criminal law. This article focuses on employment laws in Florida.

Hiring Laws

All states must comply with federal hiring laws. This includes companies not discriminating during the hiring process. Florida goes a step further. In our state, all companies are required to report new hires within 20 days. This rule is part a newer statute which was passed in 2017. It also created a statewide directory of new hires. This statute allows the state government to review company activities closer.

There are also laws pertaining to the interview process before being hired. In Florida, companies are not allowed to ask questions about marital status, pregnancy, and country of origin, among other characteristics. If there is a job-related reason, the question may be allowed.

Firing Laws

Florida is an “at-will” state. That means you, or your employer, can terminate your employment for any reason at any time. However, a company may not fire you for a protected reason. Protected reasons work hand-in-hand with the interview questions. For example, a company cannot fire a woman who gets pregnant. Let’s look at another example.

Let’s say that an employee, John Doe, has been working with Company ABC for a few years. One day, his supervisor finds out Mr. Doe is from Norway. Company ABC fires Mr. Doe because they don’t like Norway. This firing would be illegal.

Wage Laws

Like all states, Florida must comply with the federal minimum wage which is currently $7.25/hour. Florida, however, pays better at $8.25/hour. It’s illegal for companies to pay less than this either officially or “under the table”.

Our state does not have laws regarding overtime pay. However, Florida must still comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA advises that any nonexempt employee must be paid 1.5 times their salary for any overtime. It’s important to know if you are an exempt or nonexempt employee.

You may file a claim against your employer if you are a nonexempt employee and your company is not paying you extra for overtime. Before you take any action be sure to contact Chamberlin Law Firm for a free consultation.

Work Break Laws

Florida law states that, if an employee is under 18 years old, the company must give the employee a 30-minute break for every 4 hours worked. Florida law does not guarantee breaks for employees 18 years of age or older. However, meal breaks which last 30 minutes or longer do not need to be compensated.

Contact

Before taking any action it’s important to speak with a trained attorney. Any legal move you make can affect the final outcome of a case. You may contact Chamberlin Law Firm for a free consultation regarding employment laws, other civil laws, and criminal laws.