What is the Borello Multifactor test for independent contractor vs employee worker?

The California Supreme Court established the Borello test in S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Dept. of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341. The test relies upon multiple factors to make that determination, including whether the potential employer has all necessary control over the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired, although such control need not be direct, actually exercised or detailed.

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Borello Test Factors

This factor, which is not dispositive, must be considered along with other factors, which include:

  1. Whether the work is a regular or integral part of the employer’s business;
  2. Whether the worker performing services holds themselves out as being engaged in an occupation or business distinct from that of the employer;

  3.  Whether the employer or the worker supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and the place for the worker doing the work;

  4. Whether the service provided requires a special skill;Whether the worker has invested in the business, such as in the equipment or materials required by their task;

  5. The kind of occupation, and whether the work is usually done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision;

  6. The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss depending on their managerial skill;

  7. The degree of permanence of the working relationship;

  8. The length of time for which the services are to be performed;

  9. Whether the worker hires their own employees;

  10. The method of payment, whether by time or by the job;

  11.  Whether or not the worker and the potential employer believe they are creating an employer-employee relationship (this may be relevant, but the legal determination of employment status is not based on whether the parties believe they have an employer-employee relationship).

  12. Whether the employer has a right to fire at will or whether a termination gives rise to an action for breach of contract; and

Borello is referred to as a “multifactor” test because it requires consideration of all potentially relevant facts – no single factor controls the determination. Courts have emphasized different factors in the multifactor test depending on the circumstances. For example, where the employer does not control the work details, an employer-employee relationship may be found if (1) the employer retains control over the operation as a whole, (2) the worker’s duties are an integral part of the operation, and (3) the nature of the work makes detailed control unnecessary. (Yellow Cab Cooperative, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (1991) 226 Cal.App.3d 1288.)

As the Supreme Court has explained, Borello “emphasizes statutory purpose as the touchstone for deciding whether a particular category of workers should be considered employees rather than independent contractors for purposes of social welfare legislation.” (Dynamex, 4 Cal.5th at 935.) The emphasis on statutory purpose “sets apart the Borello test for distinguishing employees from independent contractors from the [common law] standard . . . in which the control of details factor is given considerable weight.” (Id.)