Workers in dangerous jobs and industries are often facing the risk of injury on site. The state's promise of workers' compensation in the case of trauma or illness caused by work conditions keeps spirits up when times get tough. But some employers are trying to get around their responsibilities.
What is employee misclassification?
The problem comes from the two main types of labor. There are employees, who may be full-time or part-time, and there are independent contractors. Employees are generally entitled to protections in the workplace beyond compensation for work, like health benefits or claims for workers' compensation in the case of an injury. Contractors are often responsible for their own benefits. Employers may try to save money by classifying employees and contractors.
Who is at risk when employees are misclassified?
The employers are the most vulnerable, because the definition is used to restrict their entitlements. All workers are at risk when some are misclassified because it means that employers are looking for loopholes instead of providing the best possible environment for their employees.
How are governments addressing this issue?
Many states, including Wisconsin, have started task forces to investigate employee misclassification and explore new ways of stopping it. New Hampshire's legislature is considering Senate Bill 151, which would allow the Department of Labor in Concord to issue stop-work orders if contractors are failing their workers.
How can workers ensure their rights are respected?
Workers who are considering an application for workers' compensation or have had their application denied may seek legal representation to prepare a claim or appeal. An attorney can address these concerns at various times in the process.