Vermont Workers’ Compensation and Independent Contractors
Vermont workers’ compensation laws require all employers to have workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance gives employees several benefits when they suffer injuries or illnesses while on the job. It also helps employers by limiting their liability for work-related injuries and illnesses. However, in Vermont, workers’ compensation insurance does not extend to independent contractors. An independent contractor who suffers an injury or illness while on the job is generally not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
However, if an employer tells you that you are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits because you are not an employee, but rather an independent contractor, you should not be quick to believe them. Some employers misclassify workers to get out of paying workers’ compensation benefits. It is vital that you understand the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor.
Employee misclassification is when an employer classifies a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee for the purposes of employee benefits or tax purposes. Misclassifying employees as independent contractors has been an issue for many years and is, unfortunately, still an issue. The Vermont Department of Labor has identified that some employers try to save on buying workers’ compensation insurance or get out of paying workers’ compensation benefits by claiming that their workers are independent contractors.
In Vermont, classifying workers as independent contractors when they are actually employees is illegal. Also, misclassification can harm the individual worker who has been misclassified. If a misclassified worker suffers a work-related injury or illness and is denied workers’ compensation benefits, it may adversely affect them and their family. Medical expenses and other injury or illness-related losses can cause irreparable financial harm.
Employee vs Independent Contractor
For you to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Vermont, there must be an employee-employer relationship. But how do you know if you are an employee or independent contractor? A qualified workers’ compensation attorney can help determine whether you are an employee or an independent contractor.
You should know that your job title generally does not matter. Just because an employer calls you an independent contractor does not automatically mean it is true. The first thing that matters is whether the employer has the “right to control.” Does the employer have the right to control the methods by which you do your job? Does the employer have the right to direct the result? Does the employer direct your time? If the answer to all these questions is yes, then you are an employee and not an independent contractor and are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
The next thing to consider is the nature of the employer’s business. Does another employee of the company usually do the kind of work you do? Is your work an integral part of the employer’s regular business? If so, you are an employee.
Contact a Vermont Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you’ve suffered a work injury or illness and an employer is denying you workers’ compensation benefits on the ground that you are an independent contractor, contact our qualified Vermont workers’ compensation attorney at Sluka Law PLC for help determining if you have been misclassified. We can help you recover the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve if you have been misclassified.