29 Aug WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS?
Employee v independent contractor
To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits you must be an employee; independent contractors are not eligible for such benefits. How do you determine if you are an employee or an independent contractor? This might sound like an obvious and simple question, but sometimes there can be a dispute concerning your employment relationship.
If you are a consultant or a freelancer, the business you ‘work” for, is not actually your employer, you will probably be considered an independent contractor. If you are employed by a staffing agency, which provides services to another employer, that employer will not be responsible to provide workers’ compensation insurance to you; the agency will be responsible for your insurance coverage.
The ARS defines an “employee” as a person in the service of an employer subject to the ARS Title 23, including aliens and minors legally or illegally permitted to work for hire, but not including a person whose employment is both casual and not in the usual course of the trade, business or occupation of the employer.
What is your position if the employer misclassified you as an independent contractor instead of an employee?
Fortunately your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits does not depend on your job title, or label. If you are injured at work and your employment relationship is in dispute, the court will resolve the dispute by taking a practical view of your employment situation and will look at the “totality of facts” relevant to your case. Factors that might be considered by the court include:
- The duration of your employment
- The method of payment; who pays your salary?
- The employers right to hire or fire you
- The extent of the employer’s control and direction over your work
- Does the employer supply the tools needed for the job?
- Who determines your work hours? You or the employer?
- Is the work performed in the usual course of the employer’s business?
So, even if the employer classified you as an independent contractor, the court may still decide on the totality of facts that you are actually an “employee”, and therefor eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Eligibility exemptions and Arizona law
Certain categories of employees and workers are exempt from workers’ compensation in certain states. In Arizona the law stipulates the following:
Casual and infrequent workers – the ARS definition of “employee” specifically excludes persons employed casually and not in the usual course of business.
Domestic workers, including housekeepers and babysitters
Insurance is not required, but Arizona law provides for optional insurance coverage.
Undocumented, or illegal workers
Arizona law specifically provides for workers’ compensation coverage.
Seasonal agricultural workers
Arizona requires employers to cover seasonal agricultural workers to the same extent as all other workers.
Volunteer workers of cities and towns may be deemed to be employees and therefor may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, if the political subdivision passes a resolution or ordinance defining the type of volunteer work and workers who could be entitled to benefits. Regular members of volunteer fire departments, or volunteer police officers are also included in this category. The aim of the ARS is clearly to provide volunteers who perform important services for Arizona towns with workers’ compensation benefits.
If you feel that your employer has misclassified you and you think that you should be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits for an illness of injury suffered at work, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible to advise you on your eligibility to receive benefits for your injury or illness.