Saturday, February 21, 2015

Are you an employee or an independent contractor?

Just because you are paid for your work does not mean that you are employed by the person paying you. On the other hand, just because a person has designated you as an independent contractor does not mean that you are not an employee and thus entitled to the protection of labor law. 

In labor law, there are four badges or elements of employment. First is the power to select and hire workers. Second is the power to pay wages and salaries. Third is the power to terminate and dismiss the worker. Fourth is the power to control the means and methods of production. The most important is the last element, controlling the means and methods.

How does an employer control the means and methods of production? Setting standards for the required results is not enough because both employees and independent contractors must abide by the agreed standards for results. For example, a writer who submits a 500-page article everyday may either be an employee or an independent contractor.

To comply with the last element, the employer must be able to have a great deal of control over how the employee works. For example, an engineer in a factory or a teacher in a school would be considered an employee if they must follow company standards in their work. They have dress codes, standard operating procedures, work plans, and supervising officers.

How about the talents in television networks? It would depend on the contract. Usually both employees and independent contractors are selected, paid, and terminated by the television networks. 

So the only test is the element of control. Do the networks control the work of the talents and not merely the result? If the talents are judged solely on their work output, then they are probably independent contractors.

But if the talents are subject to dress codes, work hours, supervising officers, and similar factors in addition to their work output, the talents are most likely employees. Especially if these talents are working for the networks for many years, they are most likely to be employees, but sad to say, not all of them are paid and recognized as such.

What are your rights as an employee who is deemed as independent contractor? You can seek the regularization of your employment. If you are not paid the minimum wage, you can seek the minimum wage or the proportionate wage to your position.

You should seek the benefits given to all employees under the law: social security, health insurance, service incentive leave, paternity or maternity leave, overtime pay, etc. You work hard so you deserve to get the fruits of your labor.

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