Earlier this week, four construction workers were injured in Foster City when the wood frame of a restaurant under construction partially collapsed and struck them. An investigation conducted after the incident showed that a truss had failed, though the cause of the truss failure is not yet known.
All four of the harmed employees were subcontractors for the construction company working on the project. This means that they do not have workers' compensation benefits available to them, despite the accident. That, at least, is the assumption since the construction company is not legally obligated to provide such benefits. This rule, that companies do not owe independent contractors work-related benefits, is often applied by employers who want to avoid paying benefits to employees.
In some extreme cases, employers will improperly classify employees as independent contractors to avoid not only paying for benefits, but also the costs of payroll taxes, as well as wage and hour requirements.
Employees who believe their employer may have misclassified them as an independent contractor should understand that they have the right to file a claim for unpaid wages. Also, if an employer is believed to have misclassified in order to avoid supplying benefits, this needs to be looked into as well. Workers' compensation is an important benefit for injured employees, who have the right to file a claim when they need to do so.
Working with an experienced attorney on these issues is important to ensure that one receives the advocacy and protection necessary to achieve a good outcome in one's case.
Source: Sfgate.com, "Foster City construction accident injures 4 workers," Henry K. Lee, June 17, 2014.