Are You an Independent Contractor and Suffering from an Injury?
Although each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, typically benefits are only awarded to part-time and full-time employee. However, businesses are finding that hiring short-term independent contractors during peak periods save them time and money, in terms of training, pay, and benefits—as independent contractors are specialists in their field, and set their own pay rate. In relation to workers’ compensation benefits, under Georgia law, independent contractors and any other employees working less than part-time are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, certain circumstances—decided by the court—allow independent contractors to receive compensation for their on-the-job injuries.
In early February 2016, several freelance stagehands for a local Atlanta theater company, Crew One Productions, fought against the National Labor Relations Board and won in the Eleventh Circuit Appellate Court for “misclassification” as independent contractors. According to the stagehands, the duties that they performed on the job were essential to the function of the company. Additionally, the stagehands allege that they were actually contracted out to other event producers to perform specialty work. Before the lawsuit, because of the board’s decision to classify them as independent contractors, the stagehand were not eligible for tax benefits—including workers’ compensation benefits—however, the appellate court found that due to the nature of the job duties, the independent contractors were in fact employees of Crew One Productions and eligible for benefits.
Have I Been Misclassified?
If you and your employer agreed that you will work as an independent contractor, but you have been injured on the job, you cannot qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are circumstances that could qualify you as an employee of your company. In that case, you have been misclassified and can file a claim to seek workers’ compensation. Although anyone can file a claim for workers’ compensation due to misclassification, consulting with an experienced attorney will ensure that your claim is represented properly. To determine your classification as an employee or independent contractor, Georgia law and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses a comprehensive list of factors to determine your eligibility. The most common misclassification telltale factors that you are an employee are listed below:
- Your employer has control over how you perform the job duties. A worker who is required to comply with their employer’s instructions about how to specifically perform normal job functions such as when, where, and how he or she is to work is ordinarily an employee
- You are required to attend training. Training a worker indicates that the employer wants the job performed in a particular manner separate from the contractor’s regular style of work. Control is indicative of employment.
- Your job duties are essential to the success of the business. An independent contractor’s purpose is to offer their specialized services for a temporary amount of time, usually during peak periods. When the success or continuation of a business largely depends upon the performance of your specialized services, then you are subject to a certain amount of control by the owner of the business.
- You perform your work on the employer’s premises. Steadily performing any part of your independent contractor duties on your employer’s worksite suggests control over the worker, especially if the work could be done elsewhere.
Consult a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
There are a number of avenues that an employer can use to take advantage of you. Consulting with an experienced Georgia workers compensation lawyer will make sure that your claim is represented clearly so that you can receive the benefits you deserve. Call the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. to learn more about your workers’ compensation benefits!