A contingent worker is a temporary or part-time worker, typically one who is working under a contract for a specific project or for a set period of time. They are usually not a formal employee of their company or employer- instead, contingent workers are hired for a specific purpose, and are usually paid by the hour.  

There are several advantages associated with contingent workers. For one, they can usually help the hiring company save money and costs in the long run. For the contingent worker, being an independent worker means that they can usually set their own hours and can work at their own pace.

There are some limitations to contingent work, namely the lack of a consistent work schedule. And since the contingent worker is not hired to be part of a company, they may not receive benefits like vacation or health insurance. Also, a contingent worker may need to familiarize themselves with self-employment tax laws.

Contingent workers also go by many other titles, including independent contractors, temporary workers (“temps”), freelancers, or contract workers.   

What Rights Do Contingent Workers Have?

Contingent worker rights may vary by jurisdiction and according to the type of work they perform. However, many state and federal laws still apply to contingent workers. For example contingent workers:

  • Cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their race, gender, disability, or other “protected categories”
  • Are entitled to federal and state standards regarding minimum wages, overtime pay, and working hours, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Must be provided with a safe working environment according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), when the contingent worker is working at the employer’s worksite or at a site controlled by the employer

Contingent workers usually enter into an employment contract with their employer. Such contracts typically describe the details of the employment arrangement, including work standards and payment plans. Thus contingent workers also have rights according to the contract laws in their region. 

For example, if an employer breaches a term in the contingent worker’s contract, they could be held liable for breaching an employment contract (and vice-versa). This is true even if the contingent worker is not technically a full-time employee, since the contract should guarantee the worker’s rights. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues Involving Contingent Worker’s Rights?

Many people have become contingent workers on account of recent economic conditions. Contingent workers are afforded many of the same rights and protections that full-time employees have. If you have any legal issues or questions regarding contingent worker’s rights, you may wish to contact an employment lawyer in your area. A qualified attorney can help review your contract or file a lawsuit on your behalf in a court of law.