Which one you are is defined by law. The amount of control an employer has over your job usually shows if you are an employee or an independent contractor.
Employee: You are probably an employee if your employer controls the tasks you do. Mostly, if you are an employee, you are paid regularly and not at the end of a project. Taxes are taken out of your paychecks and you may get benefits.
Independent Contractor: An independent contractor is in business for themselves. If you are an independent contractor, you usually agree to finish a job by a certain date for a certain price. The company you do the job for doesn’t set how many hours a day you work, what days you work or tell you how to do your job. You probably do not get benefits or have taxes taken out of your pay. Time spent as an independent contractor does not count for unemployment benefits or social security unless you pay taxes for these things as a self-employed person.
An employer might call you an independent contractor to avoid legal requirements for employees. They may be trying to get out of paying employment taxes, overtime, minimum wage, workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, and more. If you are really an employee under the law, but your employer is treating you as an independent contractor, they are breaking the law.
If you think you really should be considered an employee, you can make a complaint to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, the U.S. Department of Labor, or through an employment lawyer.
The law does not define who is temporary or permanent. Your employer decides if they want to employ you on a temporary or a longer-term basis. If you are not sure if your job is temporary, check with your employer.
A full-time employee usually works 31-40 hour per work week. Employers set what is full-time or part-time themselves. The law doesn’t set this.
Many employers who have benefit programs like vacation and health insurance, only give those benefits to full-time employees.
Note: The Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” usually requires employers to give health insurance to anyone working 30 hours or more a week or 130 hours or more a month if the employer has 50 or more full-time employees. If you are working this amount or getting this benefit you are most likely a full- time employee.
Note: For unemployment benefits 32 hours or more a week is counted as full-time. See our fact sheet Unemployment Insurance.
A part-time employee usually works from 1-30 hours per work week. Employers set what is part-time themselves. The law doesn’t set this.
Many employers who give benefits don’t give them to part-time employees.
An employer isn’t supposed to avoid paying benefits by saying you are part-time, if you really work full-time.