New law crafted to stop construction worker misclassification

Workers’ compensation benefits are imperative for all Pennsylvania workers regardless of the type of job they have. Some jobs, however, have a greater risk of accidents with injuries. Physically arduous jobs where workers must place themselves harm’s way to do their duties have a higher rate of workplace accidents. One such job where this is a concern is construction.

Construction employees might think they are protected by workers’ compensation benefits if they are hurt at work. Unfortunately, some companies categorize them incorrectly to avoid being obligated to pay for workers’ compensation insurance. This is a major obstacle for many injured workers who would otherwise get benefits. Recently, state lawmakers have advanced a bill that would address misclassification. Workers who might be impacted by this treatment should be up to date on its progress.

Two bills are under discussion

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Senate have both put forward bills to address worker misclassification. The debate is based on how far the new protections should go with concerns as to how it will affect employers and employees.

One thing is certain: employee misclassification is a troubling tactic used by some construction contractors. Independent contractors are not granted various benefits that employees receive. In addition to not getting workers’ compensation if they are injured, they do not receive unemployment benefits.

Employers can save significant money if they are not paying for workers’ compensation insurance. Some workers are not cognizant of their rights or are fearful of losing the job if they complain about these types of illegal behaviors.

A legislative report found that more than 250,000 workers in the state were misclassified. Around 11,000 did not receive workers’ compensation they otherwise might have gotten had they been classified accurately.

Workers’ compensation can be critical for injured workers

Until a version of the bill becomes law, workers should know what options they have if they might have been misclassified and were injured. Construction workers can suffer injuries in myriad ways from falling, being hit with objects, malfunctioning equipment or not having the proper safety protocols in place.

Workers’ compensation benefits are essential to cover for lost wages, medical care and more while the injured worker recovers. Not being approved for any reason can make a bad situation worse. Knowing the current and potential future laws regarding workers’ compensation is key for all workers.