Casual Workers not entitled to Workers’ Comp Benefits
Talk to most hard workers and they will tell you that there is absolutely nothing casual about the tediousness aspects of their tasks. Why therefore are casual workers not entitled to workers’ comp benefits? Do you even know what the term means as far as the law? Is the concept the same as an occasional employee?
Employees are defined in the Law
You do not have to look further than the New Jersey law books to understand a definition of the term “employee”. New Jersey uses two tests to determine if an individual is an employee as described in this handbook put together by the state:
- Control Test: What is the relationship between the individual and the business? Is there an employer that is maintaining supervision of the injured party’s work?
- Relative Nature of the Work: Does the individual rely on income from the business? Is the work performed considered an integral part of the activities of the business?
Casual Workers are a Part of Life
In the recent blizzard, some industrious workers went door to door to offer snow plowing services. They were not necessarily professionally engaged in the snow plowing business when the climate dictated their services. Instead, they just determined that weather afforded dollars bestowed upon them from Mother Nature.
What happens if one of these workers gets hurt while working to shovel you out of your driveway? Do you suddenly owe them compensation benefits? If you use the formula stated above, you are able to determine that you did not control their activities. Unless you are in the snowplowing business, you may be hard pressed to relate snowplowing to your venture.
What about Independent Contractors?
Independent contractors are a separate consideration under New Jersey law. That same individual that knocked on your door to free you of snow and ice may work for a company. Often, landscaping entities turn to snow removal in the cold weather. The responsibility for workers’ compensation benefits falls upon the independent contractor. Note well: the mere issuance of a 1099 tax form does not define an independent contractor. The law reverts back to the control test. A person may be deemed an employee if their duties are exclusively designated by an entity.
Not everyone realizes it, but homeowners’ policies also contain language regarding workers’ compensation insurance. For example, New Jersey Manufacturers policyholders are made aware that their coverage includes residential employees. This would include benefits for workers who regularly perform housekeeper or nanny responsibilities. Unless the coverage has been specifically expanded, it is generally minimal.
Were you injured while working and have questions? Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo to see if you are eligible for benefits.