This was recently posted (and quickly deleted by admin) from the craigslist job portion for art and media design section. Do you think this person has grounds? Yes or no?
"I know this is a job board, but BECAUSE it's a job board, this is the best way to reach people who really NEED this information. I don't think people here understand what "freelance" or "independent contractor" really means. Maybe the schools aren't teaching it to students? Or, maybe employers are just ignorant? But, the IRS has VERY clear definitions of what a freelancer vs. an employee is, and both sides have to obey the law. You could get screwed if you don't!
"Freelance" does NOT mean working on location for an employer, at hours they set, using equipment they provide. The IRS defines that as an "employee". And, if you're working as an "employee", your "employer" MUST pay employer Social Security for you. They must also entitle you to all the other benefits of an employee afforded under the law. That includes unemployment compensation, sick days, vacation, FMLA, health insurance, etc.
That said, all those benefits cost money, which is why employee compensation is usually about HALF of what a freelancer's compensation is. If you're a freelancer, you have to pay all those expenses out-of-pocket, plus all the costs of doing business (e.g., rent, mileage, supplies, etc.). This is what's called "overhead". Freelancers have overhead; employees do not.
All the talk I see on this board about pay being "insulting" and things of that nature, though true, really aren't the point. The point is that people who offer employee wages and/or employee work conditions, but want to categorize the work as freelance are trying to get away with something that is both LEGALLY and MORALLY WRONG. That's the bigger issue, and that's what people need to be wary of.
Job posters: If you want an employee whose hours and work conditions you can control and who you plan to provide benefits, insurance, and employer Social Security for, then HIRE an EMPLOYEE, and pay the market rate (e.g., $13-17/hr for entry level, $18-22/hr for mid-level, $23-27/hr for senior level, $28+/hr for art directors). Note I said "per hour". That's because if you plan to work somebody more than 8 hours per day, then you should be paying them OVERTIME. Graphic design is not a white collar, executive grade profession with all the perks that come with that kind of profession. Graphic design is a "trade", and as with ALL trades, you should be paid overtime compensation for work in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week, depending upon the laws in the state where you live. If you want a contractor, then CONTRACT a FREELANCER with his or her own home office, computer, server, etc., and pay the market rate (e.g., $25-30/hr for entry level, $35-45/hr for mid-level, $50-60/hr for senior level, $65+/hr for art directors). Issue him a 1099 at the end of the year, and no need to bother with any of the responsibilities of being an employer.
Job seekers: Respect yourselves and your profession. I mean this sincerely. When you settle for less than what the market says you're worth, you hurt us all. But, most of all, you hurt yourself. In the old days, workers had unions, and this is how employer/employee fairness was kept in check. Unfortunately, the advertising industry in which many graphic designers are forced to work has no unions to protect us or keep wages and work conditions fair. WE have to protect OURSELVES by holding ourselves to a standard. This is the ONLY way conditions will ever improve for our industry as a whole. If we keep lowering the bar, then we'll all be making widgets in China for 3 cents a day. Is that what you want? For yourselves? For your children?
So, to everybody: Know the law, know the market value for the skills you're buying or selling, and DO THE RIGHT THING.
That said, I know somebody will probably cry foul and have this post flagged and removed, but before that happens, I hope this message reaches as many people as it can on both sides of the job fence."