Misclassification of construction workers as independent contractors rather than wage employees can cost them their worker’s compensation benefit rights. Recent research by the McClatchy Company, a Sacramento, CA-based publishing firm, showed that here in Florida, 15.5 percent of all construction workers were misclassified as independent contractors rather than wage employees. Whether by mistake or deliberate action, this places all workers at higher risk for injury and many for denial of workers’ compensation benefits.
Though illegal, misclassification of construction workers unfortunately is widespread, and the reason is infuriating. The US Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not cover the self-employed. So, by misclassifying wage employees as independent contractors, employers do not have to worry about the OSHA requirement to provide a safe workplace, thus placing workers of all classifications at risk for a work-related injury or illness. Plus, it allows these unscrupulous employers to skip out on paying workers compensation insurance premiums, as well unemployment insurance and other benefits and taxes. Thus, when a misclassified worker suffers an injury or illness, that worker and his or her family bear the costs for medical treatment and recovery.
If you are a construction worker who has suffered an injury and you’re having a tough time securing worker’s compensation benefits, your best bet is to seek legal counsel from an experienced workers compensation attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell can be reached at 800-251-1111.