Whether you are an employee or an independent contractor, you can get hurt on the job. But while Ohio’s workers’ compensation law is clear that a direct-hire employee with a work-related injury or illness is entitled to benefits, things get more complicated when it comes to temporary workers and contractors.
The law states that employers are not required to provide workers’ comp insurance through the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for their independent contractors. However, an employer’s definition of “independent contractor” might differ from how BWC describes one.
Instead of going off of how the employer has classified the injured worker, BWC examines the day-to-day relationship between the two parties. If the “contractor” is indeed self-employed, they probably would not qualify for workers’ comp through the business. But if the employer largely controls the workers’ work duties, hours and related factors, BWC likely will categorize that worker as an employee for workers’ comp purposes.
The line can be hard to find
The line between employees and contractors is not always clear. Recently, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed a court of appeals decision that ruled that workers at a Columbus company that provides care to developmentally disabled people were employees, and that the business must carry workers’ comp insurance. The high court disagreed and found “deficiencies” in BWC’s initial ruling labeling the workers as employees. An article about the ruling does not go into detail about what those “deficiencies” were, but this ruling shows how these matters must often be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Find out if you are eligible for workers’ comp
If you have been hurt at work but aren’t sure if you qualify for workers’ comp, discuss it with a workers’ comp attorney. Most offer free initial consultations, so you have nothing to lose by learning your rights.