When you take a job, you may assume that you are automatically covered by workers’ compensation. If you are injured during the course of performing that job, it would be easy to think that your medical costs along with some of your lost wages will be reimbursed by the workers’ comp system in Maryland. While that is often the case, it is not going to be true for every single worker. For that reason, it is important to know which employees are covered by workers’ compensation, and which are not. That way, you can assess your own personal risk and plan accordingly.
Identifying as an Employee
The key to this discussion is to understand what it means to be an employee. Simply doing work for someone else does not mean you are an employee of that person, or that business. For starters, consider the way your income is taxed as the first indication of whether you fall into an employment category. If you are given a W-2 and taxes are being withheld from your paycheck, it is pretty much certain that you will be considered an employee. On the other hand, if you receive a 1099 at the end of the year, and no tax is withheld, you may be in the category of independent contractor.
A good example is to consider the average construction site. For a big construction project, there are going to be numerous workers performing a wide range of tasks. Some of those workers will likely be employees of the company in charge of the construction project. On the other hand, some are likely to be independent contractors, hired just for that specific job. Those individuals would not be employees of the company leading the construction project, even though they are working right alongside individuals who are.
Employees of Covered Employers
If you are an employee, and you work for a covered employer (which is most employers), you will have access to workers’ compensation in such a circumstance should arise. It is important to note that your employment status is not determined by your employer, but rather by the law. So even if the person you are working for tries to argue that you are not an employee – and therefore not eligible for workers’ comp – you may be able to win that argument depending on the facts.
There are a few key points that will determine your employment status. One of which is whether or not you are mandated to work a specific set of hours. Such a mandate is consistent with traditional employment, rather than contract work. Also, if you work for just a single company or have a few different clients that you serve. Employees typically work for only one business, while contractors almost always have a variety of clients. Finally, are you using your own tools and materials to perform the work, or are they provided by the business? An employee would not be expected to bring his or her own equipment.
To sum it all up, employees are covered by workers’ compensation as long as their employer has coverage (which most are required to have). It’s a good idea to clear up any misunderstanding about your employment status as soon as possible so you can know the situation should you ever need to make a claim.