Can Temporary Workers Receive Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts?
Many workers decide to work for temporary staffing agencies that find other employers who need workers on a temporary basis. In some cases, temporary workers are later hired on a permanent basis. However, if an accident happens while a temporary worker is on the job, it can be unclear where their workers’ compensation benefits come from, or if they are eligible at all.
To be eligible for workers’ compensation, a worker must be considered an employee under the law. The law makes some explicit exclusion for specific kinds of workers and independent contractors, but temporary workers are not among those exclusions. While temporary workers are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits just like any other employee, they must abide by a few special rules.
If you are a temporary worker who was injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Obtaining workers’ compensation may be confusing because you are working under two employers at the same time. For a free legal consultation about your case, contact our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.
Temporary Workers’ Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts
Temporary workers are eligible to receive workers’ compensation just like any other traditional employee. It may seem unclear how to define a temporary worker because they technically work for a staffing agency, but they also perform work for a direct employer. While the circumstances of their hiring are somewhat more complex, a temporary worker is an employee under the law.
To be eligible for workers’ compensation, a worker must fall within the scope of the definition of an “employee.” This definition can be found under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 152, § 1. Generally, a worker will be considered an employee because the term is used very broadly. Unless they are explicitly excluded under the law, any worker providing a service to an employer is typically considered an employee. However, if the statute explicitly excludes them, or they are an independent contractor, they are not an employee.
Some employers may try to classify a temporary worker as an independent contractor, thus barring them from workers’ compensation. However, classifying a temporary worker as an independent contractor requires establishing three factors:
- The employee’s work is not directed and controlled by the employer.
- The work is performed outside the regular course of the employer’s business.
- The worker has their own independent business, and they are doing that kind of work for the employer.
Temporary workers are not excluded under the law, nor are they classified as independent contractors because their work is generally controlled by the person or business they work for. Temporary workers may take advantage of workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. If you are a temporary worker who was injured in a work-related accident, contact our Cambridge workers’ compensation lawyers right away.
Which Employer Pays for Workers Compensation for Temp Workers in Massachusetts?
One of the biggest questions regarding workers’ compensation for temporary workers is who pays for the compensation. Temporary workers work at the direction of not one, but two employers. The staffing agency is the employer who hires the temporary workers and then assigns them to different places for temp work. The employer the temporary worker is assigned to work for is the direct employer. Although the direct employer may not necessarily be paying the temporary worker, they are in charge of the worker’s daily work duties.
Under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 152, § 18, the law explains the relationship between an employee, a “general employer,” and a “special employer.” In the case of a temporary worker, the staffing company or temp agency is the general employer, and the business the worker is assigned to is the special employer. In most cases, the general employer (staffing agency) will be the one to cover workers’ compensation.
However, the special employer may cover workers’ compensation under two conditions. First, the special employer may pay for workers’ compensation if the general employer is uninsured. Second, the special employer will cover workers’ compensation if the parties agree to such an arrangement ahead of time. Call our Malden workers’ compensation lawyers today to discuss your situation.
Restrictions on Temporary Workers Receiving Workers’ Compensation in Massachusetts
In any workers’ compensation case, temporary worker or not, the employee must abide by certain restrictions regarding personal lawsuits. Generally, when an employee accepts workers’ compensation from their employer’s insurance, they are barred from suing their employer in a personal lawsuit for their injuries. This creates a unique situation for temporary workers who technically have two employers, but only one of them provides workers’ compensation.
According to a ruling from the Massachusetts Appeals Court in 2015 in Molina v. State Garden, Inc., temporary workers cannot sue the staffing agency that hired them or the business they are directly working for. Even when the temporary worker accepts workers’ compensation from the staffing agency, they are still barred from suing their direct or special employer. This means you cannot receive workers’ compensation from the staffing agency and then sue the direct employer as a third party.
Call Our Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for a Free Legal Consultation
If you are a temporary worker who suffered injuries in a work-related accident, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Depending on your situation, you may be covered by either of your employers. Schedule a free legal consultation with our Wakefield workers’ compensation lawyers by calling the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407.