Independent contractor versus employee in California

California Wage and Overtime Law

California Wage and Overtime Law

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Minimum Wage and Overtime Law > Independent Contractor or Employee? > California

California Wage and Overtime Law

Your employer may refer to you as an “independent contractor” (or simply, “contractor”). Under this classification, your employer may claim that you are not entitled to the applicable minimum wage, overtime pay, standard withholdings for social security and other payroll taxes, or workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance. But, employers often misclassify people, intentionally or mistakenly, as independent contractors when they are really employees under the law.

Even if your employer calls you an independent contractor (and even if you agreed to this classification), you may actually be an employee under the law if you:

  • work where the employer tells you to work,
  • work the hours the employer sets,
  • perform your tasks in the order the employer sets,
  • are paid a salary or by the hour, rather than by the project,
  • use tools and equipment provided by the employer to do the work,
  • receive training from the employer on how to do your work in a particular way,
  • cannot hire your own employees or contractors to help you perform the work,
  • work for the same employer for a continuing period of time (rather than just for the length of a project),
  • work for a single employer instead of having several clients,
  • work under supervision of the employer, and
  • do not run a business distinct from that of the employer.

The federal Department of Labor (DOL) Fact Sheet on employee vs. independent contractor status has more information. If you think you have been incorrectly classified as an independent contractor, you may want to talk to a wage and hour attorney. See How Can I Find a Wage and Hour Lawyer in California?

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