If you experience a work-related injury or illness, you may be ineligible for workers’ compensation as an independent contractor. However, you may actually qualify for employee classification, which would make you eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

Learn about the requirements for classification as an employee or an independent contractor in Massachusetts.

Legal definitions

State law defines workers as employees by default. Your employer can only consider you an independent contractor with proof that:

  • You have an independent company or business.
  • Your work falls outside their normal business operations.
  • They do not control your work.

Impact on benefits

Misclassification affects your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, if you have incorrect classification as an independent contractor, you will be:

  • Unable to receive employer-sponsored health care coverage
  • Unable to qualify for paid time off, overtime pay and other benefits
  • Unable to collect unemployment benefits if you lose your job
  • Responsible for your own Medicare and Social Security taxes instead of sharing those costs evenly with the company as an employee

Steps to take

If you believe your employer misclassified you as an independent contractor, start by talking to your manager or the human resources department. They may be willing to adjust your classification accordingly. You can also ask the IRS to determine your employment status by submitting Form SS-8, either with your tax return or separately.

If these steps are ineffective, you can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. You can also file a lawsuit to recover workers’ compensation benefits you should have received after an injury or illness.