It is not uncommon for employers to describe a worker as an “independent contractor” to avoid providing workers’ compensation coverage. A worker subjected to this arrangement, who is injured on the job, may not realize that he or she may still be entitled to workers’ comp even though the business did not pay for coverage.
It takes more than an agreement between the employer and the worker for the employer to lawfully go without workers’ compensation coverage. The Employer Compliance Unit of the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Division is responsible for determining whether an employer had an obligation to cover a given worker. If the Unit concludes that the employer should have provided coverage, it will fine the employer and refer the claim to an insurer for processing—just as though coverage had been provided. The employer is ultimately billed for the cost of the claim, and loses protection from an additional negligence suit by the employee.
The biggest downside for the worker is that non-complying employer investigations take time, and the insurer is not on the clock to start providing benefits until a compliance determination is made. If you are a worker who has been injured while working as an “independent contractor,” please contact us as soon as possible for additional information about this process.