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The Rights of Independent Contractors in California: What You Need to Know

independent contractor laws for gig workers In California, the laws and regulations governing independent contractors in California are complex and can be difficult to navigate. In this blog post, we will explore the rights of independent contractors in California and how they can be protected under the law.

First, it is important to understand how independent contractors are defined in California. In general, an independent contractor is someone who is hired to perform a specific task or service for a client, but who is not considered an employee of that client. Independent contractors are typically responsible for their own taxes, insurance, and other expenses related to their work.

One of the key rights of independent contractors in California is the right to control their own work. Unlike employees, independent contractors have the right to control the means and methods by which they perform their work. This means that independent contractors have greater flexibility and control over their work schedules and methods than employees do.[1]

However, independent contractors in California do not have the same legal protections as employees. For example, independent contractors are not entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay under the California Labor Code.  They are also not eligible for certain types of benefits which typically would be provided to employees.

Despite these limitations, independent contractors in California still have legal rights that must be respected by their clients. For example, clients are still required to provide a safe work environment for independent contractors, and they cannot discriminate against independent contractors based on their race, gender, age, or other protected characteristics.[2]

In addition, clients must respect the terms of the contract that they have negotiated with the independent contractor. If a client fails to pay an independent contractor for work that has been completed, or if they attempt to change the terms of the contract without the independent contractor’s consent, the independent contractor may have legal recourse.[3]

independent contractor lawyersCalifornia has also enacted laws to protect the rights of certain types of independent contractors, such as those in the gig economy. For example, Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) established a new test for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under California law. The test, known as the ABC test, requires that a worker be classified as an employee unless the hiring entity can demonstrate that the worker:

  • (A) is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact;
  • (B) performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
  • (C) is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.[4]

This law has had a significant impact on companies that rely heavily on independent contractors, such as Uber and Lyft. However, the law has also faced challenges and continues to be the subject of legal and political debate in California.

In conclusion, independent contractors in California have important legal rights that must be respected by their clients. While independent contractors do not have the same legal protections as employees, they still have the right to control their own work and to work in a safe and discrimination-free environment. If you are an independent contractor in California and you believe that your legal rights have been violated, do not hesitate to seek the assistance of an experienced employment law attorney.  If you are treated as an independent contractor, but believe you are not classified correctly and should be an employee, you can also seek the assistance of an attorney. With the right legal representation, you can protect your rights and interests and ensure that you are able to enjoy the benefits of working as an independent contractor or confirm you are properly classified as one.

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