If your workforce includes temporary employees or independent subcontractors, there are a few things you should know about their workers’ compensation coverage and safety.
Hiring temporary workers
When you hire a temp, you need to be sure that the outside temp agency will be liable for payment of workers’ compensation benefits in the event of a work injury. Beware of scanty contracts, either deliberately or unwittingly silent on important legal considerations including workers’ comp coverage. Consider having contracts from temp agencies reviewed by an employment attorney before you sign them.
Keeping temporary workers safe
Here are a few questions that Vice President of Montu Staffing Solutions Paul Gilliam suggested employers should ask their temp agencies to keep workers safe, in a presentation at the 2016 Minnesota Safety and Health Conference:
- Will the agency provide personal protective equipment for the temporary workers?
- What safety training will be provided by the agency?
- Does the temporary worker require any additional help to perform the job?
- Is worker safety a company priority?
- Will you visit the worksite and conduct a safety assessment?
According to Gilliam, common causes of injuries among temporary employees include:
- Workers not being properly trained for the jobs they’re performing
- Workers being moved to a different job from what they were originally assigned
- Lack of supervision
- Weather conditions (for example, falls due to ice and snow)
- Workers being unprepared for the working conditions
For more resources on temporary worker safety, visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Protecting Temporary Workers page.
Are subcontractors covered for workers’ compensation?
Anyone working independently for your organization needs to be covered for work injuries. An independent contractor working alone may or may not carry workers’ comp insurance. If contractors say they have coverage, you’ll need to get certificates of insurance at the time they are engaged. Your SFM premium auditor will look for these certificates at the time of your premium audit. If contractors do not have workers’ comp insurance, then you’ll need to get insurance certificates for general liability with adequate minimum limits of coverage.
Are subcontractors truly ‘independent’?
You’ll need to verify that the individual meets the state’s legal criteria to be considered an independent contractor. The specific requirements vary by state, and an employment attorney is your best resource to make sure your contractors meet them. For more information on Minnesota’s guidelines, see SFM’s General Contractor’s Liability Legal Advisory and Hiring Subcontractors CompTalk.
In addition to verifying coverage and determining “independent” status, SFM attorneys recommend having a subcontractor agreement drawn up by an employment attorney for all subcontractors to sign before they go to work for you.