Gig Economy Affects Workers’ Safety

May 3, 2018

The emerging gig economy is raising concerns regarding worker safety. A gig economy is a business environment in which temporary positions and independent contractors are prevalent. Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are examples of gig economy companies that provide hired temporary workers with flexible schedules in exchange for limited employer liability.

When someone is injured at work, they are usually eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, however that may not be the case if the worker is classified as an independent contractor. Our experienced legal team at Larry Pitt & Associates can help you determine if you should be classified as an employee who is entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Independent Contractors May Not Be Entitled to Workers’ Compensation

Part-time employees and independent contractors are often required to sign agreements that prevent them from receiving the benefits that full-time employees are entitled, such as health care, sick leave, and Workers’ Compensation. Many of these jobs are in dangerous industries that are responsible for high rates of workplace injuries and fatalities. However, when part-time workers or independent contractors suffer on-the-job injuries, they may not be able to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.

According to a 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, transportation incidents accounted for almost half of on-the-job fatalities across all industries. Taxi and delivery driving positions are often filled by young workers with little to no experience, and many hazards are associated with these types of jobs. A 19-year-old bicycle food delivery worker was recently struck and fatally injured by a dump truck while making a delivery for the company, DoorDash. Because he was classified as an independent contractor, his family was not eligible for any benefits.

States Are Starting to Protect the Rights of Independent Workers

Workers who are injured on the job are entitled to compensation for their injuries regardless of who was at fault for the accident. According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), more than 129 million workers in the U.S. are covered by Workers’ Compensation. However, the private-sector think tank, McKinsey Global Institute, estimates that 54 to 68 million U.S. workers do not receive employee benefits. By classifying workers as independent contractors, companies keep costs down by paying them less and not providing them with the same type of benefits that regular full-time employees are granted.

The co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) notes that younger workers are particularly vulnerable because they are more reluctant than full-time employees to report safety issues for fear of losing their jobs. Many are also unaware that they have signed agreements that take away their right to Workers’ Compensation.

As the gig economy continues to cause concerns regarding workers’ rights and work safety, several states are beginning to implement legislation that protects independent contractors. Lawmakers in New York are supporting legislation that would impose a fee on gig economy transactions and provide portable benefits for independent workers. Congress has introduced a bill to fund pilot programs for such portable benefits.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates Advocate for All Injured Workers

If you have been injured at work, the Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates are here to help you. We will fight diligently to obtain the compensation you rightfully need and deserve. Our offices are conveniently located throughout Philadelphia and we advocate for clients in Pennsylvania including from Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County. To arrange a consultation, call us at 1-888-PITT-LAW (748-8529) or complete our online contact form.