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Boston Workers' Compensation: Who Are Considered to be Covered Employees?

An accident at work can be traumatic and painful. If you or a loved one have been injured on the job, it is important to protect yourself and talk to an experienced workers compensation attorney in Massachusetts. The workers’ compensation process is complicated. One error can result in denial of claims, denial of treatment, or termination of employment.

If you have contracted an illness at work, or sustained a workplace injury, our workers’ compensation attorneys at the Bellotti Law Group, P.C. can help. We have over 38 years of expertise in dealing with workers’ compensation cases. Each of our workers’ compensation attorneys are well prepared to help clients and their families receive the compensation they deserve after a work-related injury. Contact us today at 617-225-2100 for a free consultation

Who Are Covered Employees? 

In Massachusetts General Laws c.152, § 1 (4) defines employees as “every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, expressed or implied, oral or written.” Coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Act is mandatory for all employees in the private sector, except for seasonal, casual, or part-time domestic servants, some professional athletes, real estate salespersons, door-to-door salespersons, and certain taxi drivers. Coverage for public employees is defined in G.L. c. 152, §§ 69 and 74 includes nurses, workmen, laborers, and mechanics. The employer-employee relationship is built off of a voluntary contract between the two parties. The contract may be written or oral, and creates a legal entitlement to benefits from the employer. 

Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, independent contractors are not covered. The Reviewing Board, in Mactavish v. O’Connor Lumber Co. 6 Workers’ Comp. Rep 174, 177-78 (1992) made a set of criteria to help judges determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor. The method and manner of payment, the ownership of tools used in the work activity, the right of discharge, business activities of the parties similar or different, whether the work is part of the regular business of the alleged employer, existence of a contract of hire, and the right of control over the work activities. 

In G.L. c. 149, § 148B, the definition of an independent contractor is refined and the burden is on the employer to disprove employment status. Individuals are considered employees unless the individual is free from control and direction of the service, both under thor contract and in fact, and the service is performed outside the usual course of business of the employer. Additionally, the individual is customarily engaged in an independent trade, occupation, profession or business of the service being performed. 

When an employee of an uninsured employer, or an independent contractor who was hired by an insured general contractor, then Section 18 ensures that the insurer of the general contractor needs to provide workers’ compensation benefits that may be due to the employee. 

Workers’ compensation benefits are required for full time domestic service workers. Seasonal, casual or part-time domestic workers are not guaranteed workers’ compensation benefits. A domestic worker is seasonal, causal, or part-time if they work fewer than sixteen hours per week. 

Salespeople that earn exclusively through commissions, are not covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. General Laws c. 152, § 1(4)(b) states that “persons employed to participate in organized professional athletics, while so employed, if their contracts of hire provide for the payment of wages during the period of any disability resulting from such employment” are not considered employees. However, many professional contracts are for limited periods, which allows for some availability for the payment of workers’ compensation benefits. 

Taxi drivers who operate vehicles leased to an independent contractor, and provide rental fees to the owner that are unrelated to collected cab fares, and who are also not treated as an employee for federal taxation purposes are not a covered employee under the Act. 

General Laws c. 152, § 69 states that the Commonwealth “shall pay to laborers, workmen, mechanics and nurses, employed by it…the compensation provided” by the Act. All employees of the Commonwealth and most employees of political subdivisions are covered. Some public officials with “some portion of the sovereign authority of the state” are not considered employees and are not covered, except in cases where a town or city specifically votes to cover these individuals.

Certain types of employment are exempt from coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The following types of employment are excluded from coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Act:

* Police officers and firefighters, who are covered by G.L. c. 41, § 111F providing for leave without loss of pay for the period of any on the job injury related disability 
* Longshore and harbor workers, covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act 
* Masters or seamen engaged in interstate or foreign commerce 
* Employees of railroads, covered by the Federal Employers’ Liability Act 
* Federal employees, who are covered by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act 
* Those occupied by non-business employment (ex. When a homeowner hires an individual to person work at the home, the homeowner is not considered an employer)

Contact an Attorney Today 

Filing and pursuing workers’ compensation benefits is a complicated process. Having an experienced attorney on your side will greatly increase your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits. An attorney can help you file the claim, give advice on the case, and accelerate the process to help you get your benefits as soon as possible. 

You need the assistance of an experienced attorney. If your benefits were denied, your rights violated or your employer isn’t filing your claim in a timely manner, you will need the help of a qualified workers’ compensation attorney. Contact an experienced lawyer at Bellotti Law Group, P.C. for a free consultation. Call 617-225-2100.
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