Increasingly, employers are permitting growing numbers of employees to work off-site and are supplementing their workforce by using contingency and contract workers. As employers move away from the traditional model of full-time employees who work on the company’s premises to these newer employment models, new challenges emerge.
At WCRI’s 1999 Annual Issues & Research Conference a government researcher, a risk management consultant and a labor representative were asked to discuss the implications of these trends for workers’ compensation systems. Although their viewpoints are different, they concur on the important issues that need to be addressed:
Coverage: A growing number of workers are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Compensability: Working off-site increases the difficulty of determining work-related injuries.
Safety: Ensuring a safe work-environment is more difficult when workers are off-site. In addition, contingent workers are less committed to maintaining safe workplaces.
Fraud: Some employers may structure employment relationships to fraudulently reduce their workers’ compensation premiums.
Legislative and administrative remedies: There is an increasing need for jurisdictions to examine their laws and regulations to see if they adequately address these new relationships.
The consensus of the authors of these papers is that the current model for workers’ compensation systems, based on the assumption that employers use a stable pool of workers that remain on the company’s premises, is no longer adequate for the rapidly changing work environment. New laws and regulations are needed to clarify responsibilities and to protect workers.
The Implications of Changing Employment Relations for Workers’ Compensation. Dr. Glenn A. Gotz, Editor. December 1999. WC-99-6.
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