Florida Independent Contractor Law and Healthcare Staffing
Healthcare facilities often hire temporary nursing professionals to fill coverage gaps and ensure adequate staffing levels for their patients. Also known as 1099 contractors, these nursing professionals perform the same nursing duties as core staff members. However, there are important legal and regulatory guidelines that apply when hiring independent contractors (ICs).
These guidelines vary by state and may include specific criteria regarding a nurse’s status, work hours, and responsibilities. If a nurse is found to operate more like an employee than an IC, state and federal regulatory agencies may conduct an investigation to determine whether a facility has engaged in employee misclassification — which can lead to costly legal and financial consequences.
In this article, we provide an overview of Florida independent contractor laws and how they affect healthcare staffing. We share answers to common questions about 1099 contractor agreements in healthcare, red flags to watch out for, and ways to minimize the risks to your facility.
Florida Independent Contractor Laws at a Glance
The following chart breaks down 1099 laws in Florida, covering relevant information such as statutes, key definitions, and penalties. It also includes Florida’s independent contractor test to help healthcare employers avoid employee misclassification.
|Statute(s) and Authorities
|Florida Statutes (Title XXXI):
Florida Regulations (Florida Administrative Code)
|Employee: A person who is not an independent contractor and who performs services for wages/remuneration while working under the control and direction of an employer.
Independent Contractor: For purposes of workers’ compensation, Florida law defines an IC as one who meets at least four of the following criteria:
Note: Florida also has laws that apply to “marketplace contractors” who utilize marketing platforms to connect with third-parties seeking temporary services, but these laws are limited to household services.
|To determine whether a worker has been misclassified, state courts and agencies analyze the following 10 factors developed through case law:
Note that no single factor is determinative as courts will weigh all of these together to determine a worker’s status. Also, the mere fact that a worker has a contract specifying their status is also not determinative as the question is more about the nature of their work.
|Enforcement and Penalties
|Employers who improperly classify employees as independent contractors could face the following penalties:
Where it is determined that the misclassification of a worker was intentional, Section 440.105 provides for felony criminal charges as follows:
Florida Independent Contractor Test
Healthcare employers and nurses have a shared responsibility to ensure a worker is properly classified as either a W2 employee or a 1099 independent contractor. This allows employers to maintain compliance with tax filings and the labor standards set in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
To make the distinction, it’s important to apply both state and federal guidance, including the IRS’s independent contractor test, which helps determine the correct employment status for federal tax purposes. In Florida, independent contractor laws protect workers from misclassification by following common law factors to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship, as noted in the chart above. Consider how just a few of these factors could apply when determining whether a 1099 nurse in Florida has been misclassified and should be entitled to employee benefits.
- Tools and Resources — Independent contractor laws in Florida specify that ICs typically maintain their own tools and resources to perform a job. In healthcare settings, this would mean that IC nursing professionals would bring their own medical equipment to a job setting, like feeding pumps, IV tubing, and more.
- Control and Independence — Nurses typically work under the direction and control of a nurse manager or supervisor, following specific guidelines, policies, and schedules to perform their work. As an “independent” contractor, a 1099 nursing professional should have more autonomy and control over how and when they perform their work. Any level of supervision or direction over them would be more evidence that they are really an employee instead of an IC.
- Payment — An independent contractor is typically paid after the completion of a project. This differs from the standard pay schedule for temporary nurses, which often involves weekly or biweekly paychecks throughout an assignment.
- Employer-Employee Relationship — When entering an agreement with an independent contractor, the hiring party agrees, in effect, to avoid exercising the same level of control as an employer. If a nursing professional enters a working agreement as a 1099 contractor but is treated as an employee, they can claim misclassification. The way they’re treated takes precedence over the language in a contractual agreement.
Florida Independent Contractor Laws: Options for Healthcare Facilities
Employee misclassification for 1099 nursing professionals can have serious legal and financial implications for healthcare facilities. Misclassification can result in fines, legal expenses, and time-consuming investigations.
But is there an alternative for facilities that need temporary staffing but don’t want to increase their legal and financial exposure? Yes, your healthcare organization can minimize these risks by working with a staffing partner that employs W2 nursing professionals.
A W2 staffing partner trains and vets nurses while serving as their employer of record that handles payment, taxes, benefits, and more. By working with a W2 partner, your facility can fill open shifts without assuming the same level of risk that comes with a 1099 nurse staffing agency.
Fill Open Shifts While Maintaining Compliance
As a healthcare employer, your hiring decisions impact your facility’s legal and financial future. Stay compliant with Florida independent contractor laws by working with a staffing partner who can bring you qualified W2 nursing professionals, when you need them most.
Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but it is not intended to constitute professional legal advice for any particular situation and should not be relied on as professional legal advice. Any references to the law may not be current, as laws regularly change through updates in legislation, regulation, and case law at the federal and state level. Nothing in this article should be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.