Several months ago, we discussed statutory employees in the context of workers’ compensation law in Missouri. While this classification of worker is essential for ensuring that hurt workers get compensated for their onsite injuries, the reasons for having statutory employees is not readily apparent.
Here are three reasons why Missouri recognizes statutory employees and why they are useful for the state’s workers’ compensation system.
1. It Prioritizes the Hurt Worker
While the injured worker’s direct, uninsured employer is primarily liable for their workplace injuries, the worker’s statutory employer is secondarily liable. This means that, if there are any expenses associated with the injury that the primary employer does not cover, the injured worker can turn to their statutory employer for compensation, as well. The statutory employer, after covering those costs, can then turn to the primary employer to recoup those payments.
The goal here is to ensure that the injured worker gets compensated. By recognizing statutory employers, Missouri lines up several sources of compensation for the hurt worker, in case the first proves to be empty.
2. It Pressures Companies to Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Missouri law requires all companies with more than five employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance, as well as all construction companies with more than one employee.
However, many employers see the costs as something they would rather avoid.
By making statutory employers secondarily liable for a hurt employee’s workers’ compensation, Missouri pressures these companies to only contract with companies that carry workers’ compensation insurance. This, in turn, is an attempt to companies from skirting their responsibilities to carry workers’ compensation insurance by undercutting their business opportunities.
3. It Undermines Worker Misclassification
Finally, some Missouri companies try to save money by hiring independent contractors rather than normal employees. Among other things, these employers save money by not having to provide workers’ compensation to independent contractors.
By making statutory employers secondarily liable for a hurt worker’s injuries, this system undermines some of the savings that come with worker misclassification. Recall that Missouri Statute 287.040(1) defines a statutory employee as someone who:
- Performs work under a contract,
- Got hurt on or about the party’s premises, and
- Got hurt while performing work that is in the usual course of the party’s business.
Because the overlap between falsely classified independent contractors and statutory employees is so large, companies that hire independent contractors may still end up having to cover the worker’s losses from a worksite injury, just as if they had hired an employee, instead.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
Statutory employers are a key piece of the workers’ compensation puzzle in Missouri. The personal injury attorneys at the Smith Law Office know, and use it to recover the compensation that injured workers need after getting hurt on the job in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, or the rest of western Missouri.
Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.