New Jersey law recognizes the existence of independent contractors under proper circumstances. Such individuals, for the most part, are not covered by the employer’s worker’s compensation coverage. However, all too often employers will attempt to avoid liability for payment of worker’s compensation benefits by claiming an individual is an independent contractor when, in the eyes of the law (and in reality), that person is an employee, and covered by the New Jersey Workers Compensation Act, N.J.S.A. 34:15-7 et. seq.
Such denials of employment can be seen in many situations. A worker will be injured on the job and seek medical care and disability under his or her employer’s worker’s compensation insurance policy, only to be told he or she is an independent contractor and that benefits should be sought elsewhere. To resolve this dispute New Jersey uses two tests to determine if a worker is in fact an employee for Worker’s Compensation purposes.
The first test is known as the Right to Control test. The four points of this test are:
- Right of control and exercise of control over the work performed
- The right to fire the employee
- The method of payment of the employee
- Who furnishes the equipment and materials needed on the job?
The second and more modern test is the Relative Nature of the Work test. This test has two parts;
- Is the worker economically dependent on the alleged employer’s business?
- Is the work performed by the employee an integral part of the regular and continuing business of the employer?
Anytime an injured worker is faced with a denial of Compensation benefits based on the independent contractor defense he or she should immediately contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney. The attorneys in the Workers’ Compensation group here at Stark & Stark have litigated these issues an behalf of many workers and are ready to assist anyone facing such denials of benefits.