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The misclassification of workers can lead to overtime snafus

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2021 | Wage & Hour Claims |

Those working in healthcare have been and continue to be the heroes we needed in Kentucky over the past 18 months and moving into the future. It is not only doctors and nurses that provide essential healthcare services. Healthcare aides play an essential role in any well-run hospital or medical center in Lexington.

Still, healthcare aides like any other workers in Kentucky can experience problems in the workplace, specifically regarding pay. For example, a healthcare aid may be misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee. This means the healthcare aid may wrongfully be denied overtime pay.

Am I an employee or an independent contractor?

Workers who were denied overtime pay will want to determine whether they are an employee or an independent contractor. In general, an employee is a worker who is employed by the employer and must work under the direction of the employer and per the employer’s terms. An independent contractor, on the other hand, is generally engaged in business on their own terms. As long as they meet the goal of their contract, they are generally free to choose how they will accomplish that goal.

However, this is not a black-and-white definition of who is considered an independent contractor and who is not. There is no statutory definition of “employee” versus “independent contractor.” When disputes arise, some factors that may be considered include the extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business, whether the relationship between the worker and employer is permanent, how much the worker personally invests in facilities and equipment, how much control the employer has over the worker and the worker’s opportunity to make a profit or suffer a financial loss due to the work, among others.

The misclassification of employees violates federal law

Sometimes an employer misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor. Federal law does not require employers to pay independent contractors overtime. However, federal law does require employers to pay certain employees overtime. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay qualified employees time-and-a-half of the employee’s regular wage for every hour worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Problems arise when an employee is misclassified by the employer as an independent contractor. When this happens, the worker may be wrongfully denied overtime and may have a legal claim under the Act.

Kentucky laws on overtime and its connection to misclassification

You may wonder if Kentucky law addresses misclassification and overtime in any way. Kentucky has its own overtime laws that closely mirror federal law. Kentucky law states that if an employer allows an employee to work seven days in a workweek the employee must be paid time-and-a-half for the seventh day of work. A workweek need not start on Monday. A workweek simply consists of seven consecutive days of work in a row, regardless of which day of the week they start on.

There are exceptions to Kentucky overtime laws. Employees who are not allowed to work over 40 hours per workweek cannot claim overtime. In addition, for overtime purposes, officers, superintendents, foremen or supervisors whose job duties consist mainly of managing other employees cannot claim overtime. Independent contractors are also not considered employees at all, and thus are not able to collect overtime pay. Thus, if an employer misclassifies a qualified worker as an independent contractor when the worker is actually an employee, this violates Kentucky’s overtime laws.

Learn about your rights if you think you were misclassified

Workers who qualify for overtime have federal and state law on their side should they be misclassified as independent contractors and are denied overtime. It is important that employees stand up for their rights if they feel they are being wrongfully denied overtime. Oftentimes employees and employers can work out the matter together so that both agree on the law and their status under it.