Are You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If you drive for Uber or if you deliver for Postmates, are you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits? In the ever-increasing ‘gig economy’ people can now simply open apps on their phone at their leisure and make themselves available to work on their own schedule. Generally, online platforms have classified these workers as self-employed, or independent contractors as opposed to employees, making them ineligible for workers’ compensation.
Independent Employee Benefits
To distinguish an independent contractor from an employee, when someone is an employee they are afforded benefits such as minimum wage, overtime, workers’ compensation, unemployment, vacation leave, sick time and other benefits. An independent contractor may not be entitled to any of these benefits. Classifying workers as independent contractors saves employers from having to spend to provide these traditional employee benefits.
The ABC Test
So, what happens when someone is hurt while working through an online platform application? In a recent California Supreme Court case, Dynamex, whether someone is considered an employee or independent contractor depends on a threefold test, called the ABC test.
To be considered an independent contractor, the person providing the service for another must be free from the other party’s control. This has been the traditional test in California. For instance, if you hire someone to paint your house, you generally tell them what you want and when, but very rarely would you control the means by which the home is painted or who that individual hires to perform the work.
In this context, the service being provided to the company must be different than the company’s core business. Changing the facts above slightly, if you are a commercial property owner and are hiring a company to paint a building, these are two separate operations. A property owner is not likely to be heavily involved in the painting of other buildings and the painter is not likely to be a commercial property owner.
The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade or business which is being provided to the hiring entity. Finally, for both hypothetical situations above, the painting company would have to be established. Meaning, it was not created solely for the avoidance of the employer providing traditional employee benefits to the worker.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage & Traditional Employee Benefits
So, in the case of someone who works as a driver using a ridesharing application, an argument can be made they are an employee and afforded workers’ compensation coverage as well as other traditional employee benefits. Assuming the driver only uses one app and does not have their own driving company outside of the app being used, they could not meet the test.
On-the-other-hand, if a driver was using multiple online platforms to pick up rides, an argument could be made that this individual is an independent contractor since they are holding themselves out to be more of a ride-provider through various platforms.
Workers’ Compensation in the Gig Economy
If you or someone you know has been hurt working in the gig economy, the attorneys at The Law Office of Gerald D. Brody & Associates are familiar with these types of situations and are willing and able to discuss any workers’ compensation issues that may arise. Give us a call today at (619) 528-9800 to schedule a free consultation.