Workers’ Compensation and Contract Employees

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In the current economy, businesses are looking to cut expenses in as many ways as possible. This has led to the recent trend of hiring employees as independent contractors rather than regular staff employees. By classifying their workforce as independent contractors a company does not legally have to provide a number of benefits that they are statutorily required to give to regular employees.  One that most workers don’t take into consideration until it is  too late is that contractors do not have to be covered by a company’s workers’ compensation insurance. This can recognize substantial savings for an employer, and because of it, many times companies will try to misclassify staff employees as independent contractors to improve their bottom line at the expense of their workers.

Who Is an Employee?

In South Carolina, the law defines an ‘employee’ very broadly for the purposes of workers’ compensation. Generally both full and part time workers of any age are considered to be employees, as well as people hired to do certain jobs, and certain classes of worker recognized by statute.  The particulars of which workers are and are not covered can get somewhat complicated, but there are some general factors that are taken into consideration:

  • The amount of supervision provided.  Generally, a contract employee is paid to provide a service, and because of this the company hiring them does not give the worker instruction or control the worker’s method of doing the job. The more control a company exerts over the worker, the greater the chance they are an employee and not a contract worker.
  • Method of Payment.  Typically a contract employee is paid per job, while an employee is paid either a salary or an hourly wage.
  • Tools and Supplies.  Employees are usually provided with the equipment, tools, and supplies that are needed to complete their job duties. On the other hand, independent contractors generally are expected to provide these things themselves.
  • Regularity of Work. If a worker is brought in for one job at a time and does work for multiple companies they will probably be classified as an independent contractor, whereas if a person works regularly for the same company they are more likely to be an employee.

Two other points are worth mentioning when determining the status of a worker for the purposes of workers’ compensation insurance. First, when a worker is brought on to work for a company, interviews and a formal hiring process is not actually required to be considered an ‘employee’.  The nature of the work a person does for the company is the important part of the determination.  Similarly, even if the worker and the company have an agreement that the worker will be an “independent contractor,” it is typically the nature of the job that is done that the state workers’ compensation board will consider. Just because your employer tells you that you are an “independent contractor” does not make it true.

Contact an Experienced Greenville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

When you have been injured in Greenville while working, hiring a workers’ compensation attorney as quickly as possible can help to ensure that you recover your full damages amount. The experienced Greenville workers’ compensation attorneys at the Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm are on your side. Contact our office today to set up a no-cost consultation.

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