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Loophole gets some companies out of paying workers' compensation

Over the past few decades, the New York economy has changed in many ways. People have gone from working at a business their entire adult lives to changing jobs with more regularity. It is often unlikely that any employee stays with the same employer from the time he or she starts working until the retirement.

More recently, many employers have moved into a system where they no longer hire permanent employees. Instead, employers hire so-called "gig workers." These independent contractors are hired by the company to do specific tasks but are not full-time employees. Therefore, the employers have the benefit of workers without the responsibility that comes with them.

This is because, under current employment laws, employers are not responsible for paying certain employment benefits to independent contractors. This includes workers' compensation benefits.

Gig workers include many workers that are at high risk for workplace injuries. These include taxi drivers, chauffeurs, Uber drivers and many others. These drivers, in particular, have high instances of workplace accidents related to assault and motor vehicle accidents. However, because of this legal loophole many are facing costs associated with these workplace injuries on their own.

Some are calling for this loophole to be closed. These people believe that temporary or independent contractors should be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Otherwise, the burden of paying for these accidents falls to the employee or the rest of society.

New York employees should always understand their right to workers' compensation. While employers may try to get out of paying workers' compensation, they often have the legal responsibility to pay for workplace accidents. People who have been injured at work should understand their legal rights.

Source: Quartz, "Gig economy workers injured on the job should get workers' comp protections," Debbie Berkowitz, June 24, 2016

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