Can an Independent Contractor Get Workers' Compensation Benefits?
While there are many employees who are covered by workers’ compensation laws in Georgia, there are also a great many who are not due to nuances in legal requirements imposed on employers. Furthermore, any worker who is technically considered an independent contractor will not be automatically eligible for workers’ compensation coverage and benefits. Any employer that does choose to provide workers’ compensation coverage to an independent contractor is simply providing a professional courtesy, not meeting a legal necessity.
Independent contractors are distinguished from employees due to:
- Lack of direct oversight: An employee will either be under the constant supervision of a higher-up or be provided directions on how to complete a job to company standards. Independent contractors are often allowed to complete a task using their own methods and rarely have any oversight from the company that handed them the contract.
- No hiring formalities: It is unusual for an independent contractor to go through a formal hiring process, including interviews. Most companies that recruit independent contractors look for licenses and certifications before sending that contractor out for a job without ever meeting them.
- Equipment ownership: Employers will give employees certain pieces of equipment to complete a job task, whether that be a safety harness, a particular type of ladder, a computer in an office, and so on. Independent contractors are generally expected to provide their own tools and equipment whenever handling a contract.
- Potential competition: Independent contractors are usually not bound by non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, allowing them to perform work for all sorts of companies in a region. This means a contractor could work for one company in the morning and a direct competitor that night.
All of these distinctions and more are considered whenever the State Board of Workers’ Compensation needs to decide if someone is truly an employee, or if he or she should actually be considered an independent contract for all legal purposes.
Workers Wrongly Categorized as Independent Contractors
It is important to be aware that some employers may intentionally or inadvertently label an employee as an independent contractor. This mistake, whether it is deliberate or not, can strip an employee of his or her right to workers’ compensation coverage. Oftentimes, only legal intervention with the help of a professional Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer can set things right in the event an “independent contractor” gets injured while on-the-job.
The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC and our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers are renowned throughout Georgia for standing up for the rights of injured workers and those who have been mislabeled as independent contractors. If you would like to know about our services, you can review some of our recent case results, browse appreciative client testimonials, or contact us directly to set up a free case evaluation. Our team looks forward to hearing from you.