Employers need to be aware that the state of Massachusetts recently increased the penalties for those who misclassify employees as independent contractors.
Somers v. Converged Access explains that, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that the independent contractor law is a strict liability statute. This means that the employer’s intent in misclassifying a worker is irrelevant. Therefore, if the worker had been correctly classified as an employee, he was entitled to compensation for wages, overtime and benefits that he would have received. Besides, the employee was permitted to keep the $65 per hour that the company paid him as an independent contractor.
The employee could get paid from the Massachusetts company for benefits including vacation and holiday pay. In addition, the company was ordered to pay the employee overtime at a rate of 1.5 times the worker’s 65% per hour wage.
The Massachusetts defines more strictly the independent contractor than federal independent contractor regulations. He is free of any control and direction in connection with work performance, both in fact and under the contract. He performs a service outside the usual course of business of the employer. He is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business. If the worker does not meet all these conditions, he or she is not an independent contractor but an employee.