As a New Jersey worker, there are some common ways companies try to cheat you out of workers’ compensation insurance instead of covering you as required by state law.

One way is to keep your work “off the books,” paying you illegally without setting aside insurance money. New Jersey recently caught a subcontractor paying construction workers this way. The state says the contractor hoped to keep New Jersey from knowing the company was cheating workers out of worker’s compensation and other rights.

New Jersey law (not your boss) decides your worker status

Keeping your pay off the books is one way of trying to cheat you out of your rights as an employee.

Another way is to call you an independent contractor instead of an employee. This sounds easy, but companies cannot decide what kind of worker you are. New Jersey law decides this based on what kind of work you do and what the employer expects from you.

The ABC rule helps you know if you are a contractor

The rules are a little more complex, but it is easy to summarize them with the handy ABC rule. You are an employee unless all of these apply:

(A) You work without the company controlling you or telling you how to get the job done (for example, you eat lunch whenever it seems right to you).

And (B) you work either in your own workshop or office, or else you do something the company does not usually do (for example, a restaurant is paying you to build booths).

And (C) you are doing the kind of work you usually do for other companies in your independent occupation.

If all of these apply to you, you might be an independent contractor. If any do not apply, you should be an employee even if the company does not treat you that way.

New Jersey has powers to force bosses to obey the law

The state now can now stop work at a job site if the company is violating your rights. For a company subcontracting a construction job, this is terrible news and usually means the project uses another company instead.

New Jersey has this power because it knows shutting down a job site is a powerful way to get companies to think twice about violating your worker rights.