Who Qualifies as an Employee Under the Workers’ Compensation Act?

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (PWCA) is the law that requires employers to financially support their workers who have been injured while on the job. The law requires employers to have insurance on hand to pay for injuries to their employees. This insurance money then gets used to reimburse you, as a worker, for most injuries that you suffer while on the job. In return for providing this insurance to its workers, the employer cannot be sued for the injury.

Workers’ compensation strikes a delicate balance: As a worker, you get compensated for their injuries, but employers do not get brought to court to compensate you for your non-physical injuries, like mental pain and suffering.

Companies Have Found Ways Around Workers’ Compensation Laws

However, a key term in the PWCA is “worker.” More and more companies, like Uber, are trying to save money at the expense of the people who make their profits possible. To do this, they look for new and unique ways to skirt around workers’ compensation laws. One way to do this is to classify their workers as independent contractors, rather than employees.

Independent contractors are not considered to be among the “workers” that the PWCA protects. However, whether you are an employee or an independent contractor is, at best, difficult to determine.

Factors Used to Determine If You Are an Independent Contractor

When they wrote the PWCA, politicians left a lot of ambiguity in the language of the law so courts could figure out who was an “employee” and who was an “independent contractor.”

Unfortunately, the courts in Pennsylvania have made things overly complex. Over a series of cases, they decided that there were a handful of factors that were important. However, the number of important factors has grown unwieldy. Worse still, some cases have considered a few factors as more important than others, but others consider those same factors as less important.

The result has been that there are a handful of factors that may or may not be considered by a court in determining whether you are an “employee” – and therefore covered by the PWCA – or an “independent contractor.” These are whether:

  • The employer can control how the work is to be done;
  • The worker is responsible for the result of the work, only;
  • The employer supplied the tools for the work;
  • Payment is on a time basis or a project basis;
  • The worker can be terminated at any time;
  • There is an independent contractor agreement between the parties.

Some of these factors signal that you are an employee, while others show that you are just an independent contractor. Some answers may go one way, while others go the other.

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Face This Question on a Daily Basis

A firm understanding of all of the cases that have been decided in Pennsylvania give workers’ compensation attorneys, like those at Martin Law, the ability to better determine your work status, no matter how ambiguous it may seem. Call their law office at (215) 587-8400, or contact them online.