It is crucial to know whether or not an individual is classified as an employee. Here is everything you need to know about California Labor Code Section 3351 and one’s status as an employee.

Generally, most individuals performing labor would be classified as an employee in California. However, there are some requirements listed by the California Labor Code that must be met before an individual can be identified as an employee. As defined by California Labor Code Section 3351, an employee is an individual who is in the service of an employer under a contract of hire, either expressed or implied, and regardless of whether they are lawfully employed or unlawfully employed.

Who Can Be Identified as an Employee?

The California Labor Code also gives more information on which individuals, in particular, are covered in their definition of an employee. Here are all other laborers and individuals included in the legal definition of an employee:

  • Undocumented individuals and minors
  • All elected and appointed paid public officers
  • All officers and board members of directors of any public or private corporation
  • Any individual employed by the owner or occupant of a resident whose duties are crucial to the ownership, maintenance, or use of the resident
    • Additionally, this can include any duties that involve the care and supervision of children.
    • The duties can also be personal and not involved in the trader, business, profession, or occupation of the owner or the occupant of the residence.
  • All individuals incarcerated in a state penal or correctional institution while engaged in assigned work or employment
  • All actively working members of a partnership or a limited liability company receiving wages regardless of the profits generated by the partnership or limited liability company

How to Determine the Difference Between a Laborer and an Employee?

Although every employee does perform labor, not every laborer is an employee. Employees who do not have a contract or provide a service for an employer are commonly labeled as independent contractors. To aid in distinguishing between the two, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a three-part test called common law rules. Here is how the test explains the difference between an independent contractor and an employee.

The deciding factor in whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor is the degree of control and independence of the employee. Here is how the test measures this degree of control with prompting questions:

Behavioral Control

Does the company or employer have control over what the worker does specifically and how they perform their job? If so, then the worker is likely an employee.

Financial Control

Does the employer or company control the business logistics of the job? This can include things such as how the worker is paid, supply for the company, and all expenses. If the answer is “yes”, then the worker might be an employee.

Type of Relationship

Are there any written contracts or employee benefits? Is there a relationship between the worker and an employer and will it continue? Is the work performed by the worker a key aspect of the business? If one can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then it is likely that the worker might be an employee.

Although this test is not a definitive way to determine the classification of a worker, it is a good gauge of where the worker may fall. In all cases, one should always refer to the California Labor Code to be completely sure. For example, a worker can meet two questions in the test and still not be considered a California employee. Every situation is distinct, which is why it is crucial for every employee to know the definition of an employee listed in the state labor code.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has any more questions about California Labor Code Section 3551, contact us. Get your free consultation with one of our California Employment Attorneys today!