A recent article in Raleigh’s News and Observer discusses a trend that is developing in North Carolina and elsewhere: companies that laid off workers during the past several years are now rehiring a growing number of them. However, they are generally rehiring those workers as contractors, rather than as regular employees.
While the workers are hoping to get permanent employee status after some time, in the meantime they do not receive benefits and are not covered under the companies’ workers compensation policies.
If the workers are hired through a staffing company, such as Manpower, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under the staffing company’s coverage. However, some workers return to work as self-employed contractors; in such cases, the workers’ compensation system would not protect them if they had the misfortune of suffering a work-related injury or illness.
According to the report in The News and Observer, some companies are limiting the duration of contractor employment to 18 months, because some federal courts have held that long-term contractors were similar to permanent employees, and eligible to full benefits.
If you suffer a work-related injury in North Carolina, and you are working as an independent contractor, you should contact an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney to discuss the details of your situation. The mere fact that your employment contract describes you as an “independent contractor” is not enough to cement your status in the eyes of the law.
One danger inherent in the growing numbers of people employed as contractors is the potential weakening of the pact struck by the workers’ compensation system between employers and employees. Workers’ compensation systems are designed to ensure that workers get the help they need when they are injured or disabled, while the employers are shielded from potential findings of fault and all the costs associated with litigation.
The Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Lee & Smith serve clients in both South and North Carolina. For a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation case, please contact us by phone or email.