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.