Are independent contractors covered under workers’ compensation?

Independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits unless it can be established they are a traditional employee.

When workers in Minnesota are injured on the job, they are eligible to receive a variety of benefits through their employer's workers' compensation coverage. These benefits, according to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, can include compensation for medical care, vocational rehabilitation services, wage-loss benefits and benefits for a permanent disability. Although employees who work directly for an employer are eligible to receive these and other workers' compensation benefits, many workers who are independently employed wonder if they have the same right to these benefits.

The five-factor test

When a question arises about whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor, five factors are analyzed to determine the relationship. These factors include the following:

· The right of discharge

· How much control the employer has over where the work is performed

· How much power the employer has over the way the contractor performs and the way he or she does the work

· How payment is provided

· The manner in which the employer provides tools and materials

While all five of these factors are considered, the most important one is the employer's control over the contractor's job duties.

Determining the degree of control

When analyzing how much control an employer has over a contractor's job duties, certain questions can be asked to guide the determination. For example, while determining if an employer is required to provide a contractor with workers' compensation benefits, he or she should consider whether specific training was given to the worker. If specific training has been given, this is an indication that the employer wanted the work to be performed in a certain way, establishing control over the relationship.

How much instruction the employer gives the worker, whether the worker is required to produce a final product without the help of others, if the worker is allowed to contract for other entities and if the employer pays for business expenses are also factors that can play a role in this determination.

Workers' compensation for contractors

Those who are considered independent contractors are not covered under workers' compensation insurance. However, workers may be eligible to receive these benefits in the event of a work-related injury if the entity they contract with purchases insurance for them or if they purchase a policy independently for themselves.

Those in Minnesota who believe they have a traditional employee-employer relationship with the entity they contract with and are therefore eligible for workers' compensation benefits may struggle after they are injured on the job. In this situation, injured workers should reach out to an attorney in their area who can help them ensure their legal rights are asserted and protected.