Discuss the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. Consider the legal and ethical considerations in misclassifying the worker. 

Due Thursday

Respond to the following in a minimum of 175 words:

  • Both employers and workers frequently misunderstand the difference between an employee and a contract worker. Discuss the differences between an employee and an independent contractor. Consider the legal and ethical considerations in misclassifying the worker.

Reply to at least 2 of your classmates. Be constructive and professional in your responses.

Reply 1


The difference between an employee and an independent contractor, is how the employer pays them and how their taxes are paid. An employee is paid by the hour, salary, commission or combination of both. An employee also could get overtime. An employee receive a W-2 form, which shows their yearly income. The reason that they receive a W-2, because their employer withhold federal and state income taxes and FICA taxes, which is social security and medicare.

An independent contractor is provided a 1099, the employer that they do work for does not withheld their federal, state and FICA taxes from the amount the company pay’s them. An independent contractor is liable for their own income taxes, which is called self-employment. However, an independent contractor works without the legal amenities that will protect them, but an employee does. For example, wage and hour laws, workers compensation and unemployment benefits.

There have been several cases, that have led to companies being penalized, by the mis-classification of their employees. When an employer mis-classify an employee, they would label he/she as an independent contractor; because this will disable the company in paying taxes on employees. Such as unemployment taxes, unemployment insurance and workers compensation.

When companies mis-classify their employees, will cause an effect on the state and federal government. That is short changing them on their tax revenue by millions of dollars. With mis-classifying employees, this will be a legal and ethical issue. For instance, the reason why companies will mis-classify an employee and an independent contractor is, to save on labor costs. Labor costs is a major portion of the company. overhead.

Mis-classifying workers has a big negative result at the end, for the company. For example, when a company intentionally classify employees as independent contractors; it becomes unethical. This is a fraudulent act toward the state and federal governments.

As a result, the state and federal have taken action to penalize companies, who have been mis-classifying their employees. The IRS have implemented some test in reference to decipher an employee from an independent contractor. The test consist of behavioral control, financial control and type of responsibility.

Fines are generated from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), IRS and other state agencies. Some of the fines that companies are responsible for is, back pay on taxes, interest on employees’ wages and FICA taxes that were not withheld. Failure to make payments to the government, can produce additional fines.


Post, J. (2018, September 20). Worker Classification: What You Need to Know about Employee vs. Contractor. Retrieved from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/770-contract-vs-employees-what-you-need-to-know.html.

Reply 2


To safeguard against misclassification of workers, the IRS has compiled a list of 20 factors to help individuals and employers understand the main differences between an employee and independent contractor. The individual is an employee if they are bound by the employer to perform work in a specific manner, within certain hours, and while on the employer’s physical premises. By contrast, independent contractors retain greater freedom to accomplish the job as they deem appropriate, when it fits their schedule, and generally do so remotely. Compensation offers further distinction as employees are generally paid by the hour or period, and independent contractors generally receive payment for the completion of a job, or straight commission. There are many significant distinctions between employees and independent contractors, but the last to note at this juncture is for whom the individual is performing work – an independent contractor generally provides the same service to a number of different firms simultaneously, while also making those services readily available to the general public. In contrast, employees are bound to provide services to a specific employer within the aforementioned confines, therefore making it impossible to provide such services to the general public.

Accurately classifying employees and independent contractors is very important for IRS tax purposes. If an individual is an employee, the employer has tax responsibility on the employee’s behalf, such as withholding payroll taxes and social security contributions. Conversely, when the individual is an independent contractor and receives a 1099 to reflect their earnings, the client for whom the contractor does work does not have such a tax responsibility – that responsibility is 100% the contractor’s.

Some employers have misclassified employees as independent contractors in order to avoid tax responsibility, which creates both a legal and ethical dilemma. If an individual is misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, they may miss out on minimum wage and overtime compensation – which may be beneficial to the company, but certainly not for the individual. In this case, the misclassification could cost the company dearly in the long-run as it would be held liable for all the deductions that should have been withheld from the individual’s pay, including taxes, FICA and FUTA contributions, and penalties for the misclassification.


Bennett-Alexander, D. & Hartman, L. (2015). Employment law for business (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Rice, E. M. (n.d.). The Consequences of Misclassifying Employees. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from https://www.innovativeemployeesolutions.com/articles/the-consequences-of-misclassifying-employees/.

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