Whether they’re retail workers keeping the shelves stocked during the winter holidays, summer lifeguards at the pool, autumn farmhands, or even a mall Santa, millions of workers are classified as seasonal workers. Often seasonal employers tell their workers that they’ll be hired for a limited time and will receive wages but no benefits.
This declaration overlooks one benefit that is legally required in nearly every state: workers’ compensation.
Seasonal employees are entitled to workers’ comp
As with any other employee, seasonal workers are entitled to workers’ compensation if they’re injured during the course of their employment. The ability to file a workers’ compensation claim depends on the circumstances in which the injury occurred, not of the length or duration of the employment.
In other words, if seasonal workers are properly classified as employees (and are not independent contractors), then they’ll be entitled to workers’ compensation as long as they were performing work-related activities at the time of the accident or injury.
Independent contractors aren’t entitled to workers’ compensation
Classification matters. A seasonal employee must be properly classified as an “employee” and not as an “independent contractor” to be entitled to workers’ compensation.
The question of employment status depends upon factors such as whether there is a written or oral agreement, how payment is made, whether the company supplies tools and resources, how taxes are paid, how hours are scheduled, and how business expenses are paid.
Seasonal workers are more likely to receive workers’ compensation
It’s a good thing that seasonal workers are covered by workers’ compensation because, statistically speaking, seasonal workers are more likely to be injured on the job. In 2013, ProPublica analyzed the workers’ comp claims in five states and reported that injury incidence rates were between 36% and 72% higher for temporary workers. These statistics may reflect employers conducting insufficient training for seasonal workers, seasonal employees working more than one job, or seasonal workers working too quickly to keep pace with the demand.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim
The process for filing for workers’ compensation is the same for temporary workers as it is for nontemporary workers. After receiving medical treatment and following the doctor’s orders, seasonal workers must notify their employer of the injury and complete the claim forms provided.
Seasonal workers are eligible to receive compensation for all reasonable medical expenses, lost wages during the season, temporary total disability (TTD) if unable to work all or part of the time, and permanent disability if the injury will affect earnings for the rest of their life.
The TTD payments will reflect the seasonal nature of the work with different rates for in-season or off-season rates. The in-season rate reflects the average weekly wage, while the off-season rate reflects the worker’s age, education, skill, and other employment opportunities.
Seasonal workers should consult a workers’ comp lawyer
A workers’ compensation attorney can help seasonal workers navigate the process to obtain the benefits they might be entitled to receive. Not every case requires the help of a lawyer, but some situations are complicated. It can be reassuring to have a qualified attorney help you decide the best way to recover any money you’re entitled to as a seasonal worker.