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Unemployment Insurance - Worker Classification

General Private Employers

The unemployment insurance law uses a definition of "employee" (with exceptions) to separate those individuals (workers) who will bear the risk of their own unemployment (independent contractors) from those whose risk of unemployment will rest with the employing unit (employees).

A worker who "performs services for pay" is an employee unless the employer satisfies the criteria in the statute to classify the worker as an exception. We sometimes call the exception an "independent contractor."

It is important that you carefully read the definition of "employee" and the exceptions in the unemployment law: Wis. Stat. § 108.02(12).

Steps to Classify a Worker

If you are an employer or a worker and want to determine how to properly classify a worker as either an employee or an independent contractor for unemployment insurance continue to the worker classification test to begin the process:

Note: Changes were made to the applicable law, effective January 1, 2011. If the worker’s services were performed prior to January 1, 2011, the old law will be used instead.

Cases that have been decided under the new law are included in the discussion of the new law's factors and conditions. In addition, since several conditions in the new law are the same conditions as are found in the old law, certain cases decided under the old law have been included in the discussion of those conditions. Also, several conditions in the new law incorporate provisions from the current law applicable to government units and nonprofit organizations. When cases are cited from the old law or the current law applicable to government units and nonprofit organizations, they are clearly designated as such.