Worker’s compensation and the gig economy
Gig work such as ride-sharing and food delivery can be legitimately dangerous work, but employers do not always compensate injured employees, even when the conditions of the job caused the injury.
Worker’s compensation is expensive, and most large corporations find it in their interest to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees entitled to a traditional benefits package.
Misclassification of work type
In Massachusetts, there is a stringent three-part test that determines whether you are an independent contractor or a bona fide employee. As cited by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Massachusetts considers all workers employees unless they meet all three very specific criteria, as follows.
Freedom from the company’s direction and control
If you are able to freely choose which orders you take with no consequence from the company, you might be an independent contractor. This is also true if the company cannot tell you where or when to work.
Regular involvement in other similar work
Most gig workers sign on with several companies at once (e.g., rideshare drivers commonly work for both Lyft and Uber). Massachusetts recognizes this as independent contracting. However, if you only work for one company and do so full-time, you are probably functioning as an employee rather than as a contractor.
Work takes place offsite and outside of regular work hours
If you are working evenings, weekends, away from a traditional office, and sometimes only work an hour or two at a time, the law views you as an independent contractor. Keep in mind that you may have a legal claim to worker’s compensation if just one or two of the above does not describe you. If you sustained an injury at work, it is always possible to make an argument that you deserve just compensation.