Are Georgia firms cheating 1,000s of workers out of benefits, health care? (GA)

By Jon Greenberg on Thursday, August 10th, 2017 at 2:51 p.m.

With health care policy in limbo in Washington, the politicians who would like to be Georgia’s next governor are staking out their own policy outlines. Democratic State Rep. Stacey Evans favors expanding Medicaid, but said the state could take other action as well.

“There are thousands of Georgia workers that are misclassified as independent contractors, so that their employers can wrongfully deny them the benefits that they deserve, including health care,” Evans said Aug. 5. “By expanding Medicaid and classifying workers appropriately, insurance will be available to hundreds of thousands more Georgians.”

We decided to check Evans’ number of misclassified workers, and found she’s on safe ground.

Defining misclassification

Some businesses avoid treating workers as employees by calling them an independent contractor. The person might work only for that one business, use equipment the business provides and do exactly what the business tells him or her to do, and yet be labeled as if the person was in business for themselves.

The advantage for companies is they avoid paying a number of employment taxes, including Medicare, Social Security and unemployment insurance. If they offer health insurance, they would sidestep that too.

As Georgia’s Department of Labor put it, “independent contractors are not independent just because that is what their employer calls them, because that is what they call themselves, or because they sign an ‘independent contractor agreement.’ Independent contractor status depends on the underlying nature of the work relationship.”

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