Legal Pitfalls: Employee Misclassification & How To Avoid

What is Employee Misclassification?

Employee misclassification, the inadvertent labeling of employees as independent contractors, poses considerable risks for both workers and businesses. This occurrence, though often unintentional, can lead to significant consequences. 

To gain insight into preventing this error, we’ll delve into the distinctions between employees and independent contractors, offering criteria to navigate these classifications and minimize legal risks. Understanding the nuances is crucial for employers to avoid the pitfalls associated with misclassification.

No Tax Withholding

Employee misclassification has the potential danger of owing taxes to authorities. By misclassifying, it disrupts the usual process and complicates the monitoring of tax compliance, which can be troublesome if not solved. 


The inadvertent notice to the authorities about the misclassification can give a hefty fine to employers due to penalties for them not adhering to the regulations of their country. Moreover, this can lead to a severe blow, financial-wise, if the employee misclassification is deemed intentional.

Exploitative Practice

One of the primary reasons why employee misclassification is a big problem is it voids the employees from having benefits or rights that they should have if they were only classified correctly. Some of these rights are their wage, work hours, rest breaks, and many more. 

Legal Actions

Misclassifying an employee can bring about legal actions to a company. They can be brought to court and would pay compensation for employees that have been deemed wrong. Moreover, it is not only employees that can do legal actions but also the clients. 

Incorrect Expense Deduction

Independent contractors can deduct various expenses that employees can’t, potentially lowering overall tax revenue for governments. This can host a plethora of problems in the long run once the government notices that an employee misclassification has been happening. 

Breach of Industry Agreements

Misclassification may violate industry standards, exposing businesses to potential legal consequences and damaging their reputation. Apart from this, their reputation not only to their clients but also to potential employees can cause a snowball effect of jeopardizing their network and member base.

Employee misclassification avoidance requires proactive measures. Treating a worker as an employee, even unintentionally, can lead regulators to view them as such. While intent matters, staying compliant demands translating good intentions into actions. Here’s a guide to avoiding misclassification pitfalls:

Consult Local Legal Experts

Understanding the intricacies of labor laws in each jurisdiction is crucial. That is why investing in a local entity or creating a connection with local partners is vital since employee misclassification normally occurs on a global scale of employees rather than keeping it only to one specific nation. 

Hire a Professional Employer Organization (PEO)

PEO essentialy employs workers who will then work for a company that hired that PEO. With this setup, there is no liability whatsoever for employee misclassification. Moreover, it also removes the intricacies of other employee regulations since the PEO will be the one to handle that part of the business. 

Hire an Employer of Records (EOR)

If you want to go a step further, hiring an EOR will provide you with more services in terms of your employees than what a PEO provides. In doing so, it gives you more freedom to focus elsewhere. 

Regular Classification Audits

Conduct regular assessments of job duties, control levels, and other relevant factors to ensure accurate classification. Avoiding misclassification requires an ongoing commitment to understanding evolving laws and regulations.

Clear Policies and Guidelines

Establish comprehensive policies emphasizing criteria for determining employee status and commitment to international labor law compliance. Encourage reporting and provide regular training to educate personnel on proper classification practices.

Employee misclassification poses significant risks for both workers and businesses. This inadvertent error, often fueled by differences in global labor laws, can lead to severe consequences. 

By understanding the nuances of employee and contractor classifications, consulting legal experts, implementing clear policies, and considering partnerships with Employer of Record services, businesses can navigate this complex landscape. Staying proactive, informed, and compliant is the key to avoiding the pitfalls associated with misclassification.

Global People is a leading local employment solutions provider for national and international corporations and can advise and escort you in your next destination.


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Global People aims to assist its clients to fully focus on their development and success in their target destinations without having to worry about the regulation and compliance involved in the employment of their local and expat employees.


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