What’s the Difference Between Employee and Contractor

The distinction between an employee and a contractor is crucial in determining the rights, responsibilities, and legal obligations of individuals and businesses. While both employees and contractors perform work for an organization, there are distinct differences that impact their relationship with the employer.  

In 2021, the Department of Labor put regulations into effect that made it easier for companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. This made it easier for companies to exclude them from things like overtime pay, minimum wage, and other benefits. 

But in 2022, the DOL decided to do away with a key component of the regulation that gave more weight to two key factors – the control the person has over the work and the opportunity to make a profit or experience a loss.  

Under new rules, all factors involved in determining status would carry equal weight. There are six in total: 

  • Opportunity for profit or loss depending on managerial skill 
  • Investments by the worker and the employer 
  • Degree of permanence of the work relationship 
  • Nature and degree of control 
  • Extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business 
  • Skill and initiative 

Here are some additional details outlining how some of these regulations operate 

Nature of Work and Control 

Employees typically work under the direct control and supervision of the employer. They follow set work schedules, receive detailed instructions on tasks, and have their work closely managed. Contractors, on the other hand, have greater independence and control over how they perform their work. They are often engaged for specific projects or tasks and have more flexibility in deciding how, when, and where they carry out their work. 

Employment Relationship 

Employees have a formal employer-employee relationship with the organization. They are part of the company’s workforce and enjoy certain benefits and protections, such as access to employee benefits, statutory leave entitlements, and employment-related legal rights. Contractors, however, are considered self-employed and maintain an independent business relationship with the organization. They are responsible for their own taxes, insurance, and benefits. 

Financial Arrangements 

Employees receive a regular salary or wages from the employer, often on a set schedule, and may be eligible for additional compensation such as bonuses or incentives. Contractors, on the other hand, typically negotiate a specific fee or project-based payment for their services. They may invoice the organization for their work and are responsible for their own financial management, including tax payments and business expenses. 

Control over Work Details 

Employers exercise a higher degree of control over employees in terms of work details. They determine the tasks to be performed, provide tools and equipment, and dictate how the work should be completed. Contractors, in contrast, have more autonomy and are generally responsible for providing their own tools, equipment, and resources necessary to perform the contracted services. 


Employees typically have an ongoing, long-term relationship with the employer, often characterized by an employment contract or agreement. Their work is expected to continue indefinitely, subject to termination conditions. Contractors, on the other hand, are often engaged for a specific project, task, or duration. Once the project is completed or the contract expires, the working relationship may come to an end unless a new contract is negotiated. 

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