Definition of Employer – Employee Under The Illinois Workers Compensation Act: Independent Contractors


The most applicable Section of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act for those in the private sector (not employed by the State) is 820 ILCS 305(b)(2) stating an employee hired in Illinois to work in Illinois is “every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written.” In most cases, a “covered” employee will be able to obtain benefits as an employee under this definition. Please note that whether the employee is a “covered” employee is not discussed in this section.

An independent contractor is not an employee under the Act and is not entitled to benefits. Bauer v. Industrial Commission, 282 N.E.2d 448 (1972). Often an employer will try to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits by trying to classify their employees as independent workers, pay them as a 1099 employee without paying taxes, and tell their employees that they are independent contractors and not entitled to employee benefits. However, unlike other areas of the law, the designation in a contract that a petitioner is an independent contractor is of “lesser weight.” Ware v. Industrial Commission, 318 Ill.App.3d 1117, 743 N.E.2d 579 at 583, 252 Ill.Dec. 711 (1st Dist. 2000). This means that, if a worker gets injured, and the employer attempts to avoid liability by labeling that worker as an “independent contractor,” that doesn’t meant that they are necessarily an independent contractor. A review of the injured workers’ particular situation will be necessary.

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