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Massachusetts Law Concerning Workers’ Compensation for Boston Employees Versus Contractors

When employees are injured in the course and scope of employment, they are entitled to benefits according to Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws. There is no requirement that they prove fault for their injury or medical condition caused at work. The one caveat is that a Boston workers’ compensation claimant must be considered an “employee” at the time of their injury, or at the time they suffered their medical symptoms.According to Massachusetts law, an employee is a person under express or implied contract of hire. Employees are hired by contract to perform services for their employer.  The significance of this definition is that when injured workers are deemed employees, they are entitled to benefits and payments provided by state workers’ compensation laws.  In comparison, independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. There are other exceptions to the definition of employee under Massachusetts law, including seamen engaged in interstate commerce and other individuals.

The Office of Labor and Workforce Development makes clear determining the status of a worker is fact-driven and to be determined by the administrative judge assessing a claim for benefits.  While Massachusetts presumes that workers are employees, when an employer chooses to hire an independent contractor, there are steps they can take that help to make this distinction clear, such as allowing the contractor to control their work and perform work outside the usual course of the employer’s business.

The status of a worker pursuing a claim for benefits may hinge upon their employment status. Often, the employer or their insurance company challenges the worker’s entitlement to benefits, alleging they are a contractor rather than an employee.  In order for judges throughout Massachusetts to determine eligibility in this situation, they look at certain factors according to the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The Massachusetts Reviewing Board assesses certain characteristics to assess the status of a worker as an employee or independent contractor.  For example, an administrative judge may consider who supplies the tools and what is the duration of the employment.  Whether pay is provided hourly or by the job is another factor for consideration. Finally, an important aspect is whether the parties believe they have established a relationship as an employer and an employee.

Another consideration for determining employment status in the realm of workers’ compensation benefits is whether the worker had control over their method of work, such as the timing of the project and their equipment.  A contractor often controls the service provided more than an employee.  And in a specific locality, certain occupations are typically performed under the supervision of an employer.

Individuals pursuing workers’ compensation benefits receive skilled legal representation at the Law Offices of Attorney Michael O. Smith.  Throughout Boston, we help people who have been hurt in a workplace accident or are suffering from work-related medical conditions.  To understand your rights and whether you may be entitled to compensation and benefits for lost wages and injuries, call an experienced Boston workers’ compensation attorney at (617) 263-0060.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts truck company tries to avoid paying higher insurance premiums arguing employees are independent contractors, Boston Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, April 11, 2014

Massachusetts Reviewing Board Holds that Judge’s Modification of Benefits Award was not Grounded in Medical Evidence, Boston Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog, January 3, 2017

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