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November 23, 2015

Will the Worker’s Comp System Change to Include Independent Contractors?

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Posted in Wisconsin Workers Compensation Related News

Usually when we think of Worker’s Compensation, we think of all employees at various companies and corporations being protected by law if they are injured at work. After all, in Wisconsin, the law states that if employers have more than three full or part time employees, they are subject to the Worker’s Comp Act. But what about workers who are not classified as “employees” but rather as “contract workers” or “independent contractors”?

As more and more workers are self-employed in the United States, the request to adapt Worker’s Comp laws grows stronger. This week, a group of labor leaders from companies such as Etsy, Handy, and Lyft, wrote a letter to U.S. legislators asking for new coverage for contract workers, including worker’s compensation. According to a recent Insurance Business article, “Although as many as 53 million Americans are now self-employed, the letter’s authors argue that the benefits system – including workers’ comp – has ‘not kept pace with the rapid changes in the economy.’”

In addition to Worker’s comp protection, other new benefits for contract workers would include retirement savings, unemployment insurance, paid time off, and job training. Because many independent contractors move from job to job, the letter requests that benefits would be “portable.” Since contract workers do not have the same working relationship that employees do with their employers, lawmakers will need to consider what new protection would look like for independent contractors.

It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a worker is indeed an employee or a contract worker, depending on the situation and place of employment. This can cause additional work for insurance professionals, since they must help employers ensure that they are labeling their employees’ statuses accurately.

The Insurance Business article asked La’Troya McKinney, a commercial lines account manager with Abram Interstate Insurance Services in California, about that very issue. “That’s something many companies and agents overlook while submitting workers’ compensation applications,” McKinney said. “If an employer is scheduling their time, telling them who to see or where to go, they are an employee under the labor code.”

If you are unsure of your employee status, please do not hesitate to contact us today. Learn more about the fight for protection for contract workers here.

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