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Amazon Mechanical Turk Worker: Independent Contractor or Employee?

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MTurk Worker Rights

As an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker, are you getting paid for every minute that you work? Are you making, at the very least, minimum wage? With so many HITs paying just pennies or a dollar, the majority of Turkers are NOT making the required California state minimum wage per hour worked.

Amazon is classifying Mechanical Turk workers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them legal wages and having to provide them with employment benefits. Amazon may argue that since Mechanical Turk provides “freelance” or “side gig opportunities” for workers that it is properly classifying them as independent contractors.

This is not the case under current California law, which provides that MTurk workers should be classified as employees, regardless of the amount of time they spend working for MTurk per week. They are entitled to receive minimum wage, payment for every minute that they work, employment benefits, and more.

California Law on Employee Classification

A 2018 California Supreme Court case known as Dynamex states that in order for a worker to be classified as an independent contractor, a business must show that the worker:

  • Is free from the control and direction of the employer,
  • performs work that is outside the hirer’s core business, and
  • engages in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.

This Dynamex test has been the law since 2018 and was recently codified in California by the passage of AB 5, going into effect on January 1, 2020. This enables the legislature to expand employee protections to all aspects of the state labor code, rather than just the California wage orders.

Since Turkers perform work that is within Amazon Mechanical Turk’s core business, which is to complete microtasks of data validation, survey participation, content moderation, and more, they must be classified as employees. Not as independent contractors.

Employment Benefits For Amazon Mechanical Turk Workers

What does this mean for you as an Amazon Mechanical Turk worker? By being classified as an employee rather than an independent contractor, you will receive benefits such as a guaranteed minimum wage, overtime wages, health care benefits, unemployment, workers’ compensation, business expense reimbursement, and any other benefits that employees are guaranteed under California law. This means getting paid for every minute that you work and more.

Call PARRIS To Fight For What You’re Owed

Turkers can start a free case consultation by calling PARRIS at (661) 485-2072. You pay no fees until we win your case. Our employment attorneys have represented thousands of workers across California since 1985, and have recovered over $500 million in workplace lawsuits.

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