The Differences Between an Employee and an Independent Contractor

Throughout your professional career, you will likely hold many job titles; the majority of which will fall into two categories: employee or independent contractor. Dozens of state and federal laws protect workers who fall under the full-time employee status, but the same cannot be said for contractors. Below are some of the factors that can help you differentiate between the two job categories.

Materials Provided

Do you do all of your work on your own computer or does your company provide you with the necessary materials? Independent contractors supply their own equipment because they typically use it for various companies and projects. For example, an independent photographer owns his camera and uses it to take headshots for a new construction company. If the construction company purchases the camera and hires the photographer as a full-time member of the staff, he should most likely be categorized as an employee.

Hours Worked

When employers ask you to come into work at a specific time every single day, you’re probably an employee rather than a contract worker. Common law principles say if a worker controls his own hours, and can choose whether or not to work, they are arguably a contract worker. If you are asked to report to work sporadically or for a temporary period of time, you are arguably an independent contractor.


If you’re on a company’s payroll and are receiving consistent paychecks from only that company, you’re likely an employee who could be entitled to benefits. Independent contractors are typically compensated more sporadically because they work inconsistent hours and do not rely on one business for their sole source of income.

Dozens of major corporations have tried mislabeling full-time employees as contractors in order to avoid paying employee benefits, and state and federal taxes. If you are being improperly categorized as an independent contractor, contact Carter Law Firm immediately.

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