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Contract Workers and Employees: Who Gets Workers’ Comp in California?

You may have been shocked when you received a rejection notice for your injury coverage. California does not offer workers’ comp for independent contractors, and you’re left to deal with medical bills and injury costs on your own. But the biggest surprise was that your boss didn’t consider you to be an employee. Is there anything you can do?

There are two departments that can help clarify whether you are an employee or contract worker. The Employment Development Department (EDD) determines your status based on employment-related taxes, while the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) determines whether you are entitled based on wages and hours worked.

In most cases, these 10 factors will determine whether you are an employee or independent contractor:

  • Who provides the majority of your work materials, including your tools, instruments, work location.
  • If your work is required as part of the regular business of your employer.
  • If you work for a principal business or a separate entity.
  • The skill level of the services you provide.
  • Whether your job requires direct supervision by your employer in the place where the work is performed.
  • Your degree of managerial skill or opportunities for promotion or raise.
  • The length of time for which you have been employed or have agreed to provide services.
  • Whether there has been an agreement on the permanence of your position.
  • Methods in which you have been paid (including cash, check, stocks or other remuneration).
  • Whether or not there is an established employer-employee relationship.


The important thing to remember is that there is no set definition for an "independent contractor," so it will be for a judge to decide whether you qualify as a regular employee. If you ask for clarification of your status from DLSE, they will usually begin on the presumption that you are an employee, using the above factors (among others) to confirm or rebut the decision.

At the Ledgerwood Law Group, we can help you prove that you qualify as an employee rather than a contract worker in California, getting you the workers’ comp benefits you deserve. Contact us today at 888-761-7383 or click the link above to read through our FREE guide, The Northern California Workers’ Compensation Survival Manual.

Thomas Ledgerwood
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Proprietor Ledgerwood Law Group