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Can Seasonal Workers Get Workers’ Compensation?

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A large part of Florida’s workforce is seasonal, particularly in summer and early autumn when many of the state’s native crops need harvesting (particularly strawberries; research from the University of Florida estimates that as many as 40 percent of strawberry pickers per year come from out of state). While agriculture is the industry with the highest seasonal employment, it and other industries with many temporary workers, such as tourism or retail, do not always offer their employees the protections they deserve. It is crucial to know your rights if you wind up in this situation.

Many Seasonal Workers Are Covered

One thing to keep in mind above just about all else is that workers’ compensation laws apply to employers, not specifically to employees. Employers must provide workers’ compensation coverage to all their workers if the nature of their employment meets certain criteria – for example, the relevant law states that “employment” does not include “agricultural labor” on a far with 5 or fewer regular employees plus 12 or fewer other workers if the work is complete within 30 days – but if the time period is more than that, a worker is classified as “employed” and thus able to receive workers’ compensation.

Another common exception to the workers’ compensation rules for temporary or seasonal employees is in the construction field. Subcontractors must generally be covered under their superior (the contractor)’s workers’ compensation policy, rather than that of the site owner. If someone is injured on the job and their superior does not have the appropriate coverage, the worker may be able to seek compensation based on that tenet, but each case is different.

Ensure You Are Classified Correctly

If you are injured on the job while working on a seasonal basis, you have the right to seek compensation. Florida law mandates that you are covered unless you fall under one of the few exceptions, and you are entitled to have your case treated in the exact same manner as it would be if you were a full-time employee. However, you also must be on the lookout for certain unethical tactics that some employers may use in order to try and avoid a rise in insurance premiums.

For example, one of the most common unlawful acts that an unethical employer may try is to misclassify you as an independent contractor. Independent contractors are not entitled to the same benefits as regular employees – including access to workers’ compensation coverage – and while some employers will classify seasonal workers as independent contractors out of ignorance, far too many will do so maliciously in order to avoid taxes and insurance rate hikes. If this happens, you may want to contact an attorney, so that you have a chance to get the benefits to which you are entitled.

Contact An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Seasonal workers are the backbone of several of Florida’s most profitable industries, and they deserve all the benefits that Florida law grants to them. If you are a seasonal worker who has been injured at work, know that you are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage in most cases. An Orlando workers’ compensation attorney from the Hornsby Law Group can help to answer any questions you may have about these issues. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.

Sources:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0400-0499/0440/Sections/0440.105.html

edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FE1040

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