Are You an Independent Contractor If an App Sets Your Hours?
Nicole Dieker

Independent contracting is a tough road to hoe. I’ve done it before (In name; like the cable installers in the article, I was actually misclassified as an independent contractor when I should’ve been classified as an employee, and while my employer — ahem — my “client connection service” — told me explicitly that I was an independent contractor, I had no idea that the term in any way meant that my taxes and my rights were different from those of employees, and no one bothered to explain to me the difference. I had only ever been an employee before, so how was I supposed to know the difference?). The thing about independent contracting is that it really only works well for skilled people who can demand a decent salary. I got into “independent contracting” work in college when I was still largely unskilled. I was paid $10/ hour, which sounded great at first since it was more than minimum wage. But at tax time, I had to give so much of it to the IRS that my take-home pay was only about $7.50/ hour. Luckily for me, unlike cable installers or Uber drivers, I did not to have expenses (other than electricity and wear and tear on my computer), so I kinda sorta made money in the end, but the job really wasn’t worth the hassle for the money.

My big takeaway for the current economy: a huge chunk of “independent contractors” are being misclassified by companies that are often making money hand-over-fist. Most of these misclassified workers are unskilled, low-payed workers who are least able to make a living under the conditions of working while misclassified and who are least able to stand up for themselves when they’re mistreated. Many misclassified workers don’t even know that they are misclassified, let alone have access to the time, money, and council that would allow them to advocate for themselves.

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