There are scores of temporary workers in Florida. The construction industry, for example, often relies on these short-term (i.e. typically less than one year and with a specific end date) employees to meet seasonal demands and accommodate for ebbs and flows in business. They’re not the only ones: sectors from retail and hospitality to accounting and tech temps.
But are temporary workers covered by workers’ comp?
Who Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Employers must carry workers’ comp insurance if they:
- Are in a non-construction industry with four or more full- or part-time employees.
- Are in the construction industry and have one or more employee (including themselves).
- Are a state or local government.
- Are a farmer with more than five regular employees and/or 12 or more other workers (e.g. seasonal labor lasting 30 days or more).
It works a bit differently for temporary employees. These individuals have a “joint employer.” This means that they have a relationship with the staffing company that placed them and the company that has hired them on a temporary basis.
Licensed staffing agencies must provide workers’ comp for hired staff. They are also obligated to make sure that temporary workplaces are safe and perform the necessary procedures when a temp employee makes a claim.
While the responsibility typically falls on the staffing service, the client company (i.e. the business that has hired the temporary workers) can still be held liable if one of these employees is injured on the job.
What Should Temporary Workers Know Before They Start Their Jobs?
Before you get to work, make sure you clarify with your staffing agency who is responsible for workers’ comp. You need to make sure you are adequately protected: while the law obligates licensed staffing companies to carry this insurance, and while client companies can be held liable, you do not want any gaps in coverage, refusals to pay, delays in the process, or extra stress on your shoulders if you are injured on the job.
If your staffing agency can’t or won’t explain this or take responsibility for workers’ comp, this is a red flag. Consider opting out of the job and finding a service that makes your safety a priority. This is important for any position, particularly those in higher-risk fields like construction and healthcare.
What If You Are Injured at Work?
The procedure for temporary workers is the same as permanent employees. You have 30 days from the date you received the injury or 30 days from the date you were diagnosed with a work-related illness to notify your employer. Because you also have that joint employer dynamic, it is important to notify the staffing company as well.
From there, your employer should give you a form to complete and refer you to an occupational physician. Under Florida law, your employer gets to choose the treating doctor, unless you need emergency attention. Your employer must then report your claim to its insurance company. They have seven days in which to do so.
The insurance company reviews evidence to see if you qualify for benefits. This includes your medical records, work experience, wages, and, possibly, a medical examination and/or a functional capacity evaluation (which tells them the level of work you are capable of performing).
If you are approved, you will start receiving benefits to cover expenses such as lost wages, medical treatment, etc.
But what happens if you are not approved?
Consulting a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
In some cases, the insurance company will deny workers’ compensation benefits. One of the most common reasons is that they determine the injury was caused by a pre-existing condition, not a workplace accident or incident. In other cases, the applicant may have missed the deadline to file a claim.
But it also happens that insurance companies just don’t want to pay up. As profit-generating entities, they are concerned with their bottom line. You may also experience difficulty from your staffing agency and/or employer who are concerned that their premiums will increase when you file a claim. They may be reluctant to proceed in cases involving temporary workers.
Whether your staffing agency and/or employer are impeding the claims process or your application for benefits was denied, it is important to contact a qualified workers’ compensation attorney.
Statistics show that people who have legal representation are more likely to receive benefits, and those benefits are often higher than those who do not.
When your rights are at stake — when your ability to work and make ends meet is compromised — turn to an attorney who will fight for you. If you are a temporary worker who has been hurt on the job, please contact our team today.