Who is a Statutory Employee?
In order to win a Missouri Workers Compensation case, an injured worker must prove 4 things:
- That he/she was an Employee;
- The Employer was required to follow the Missouri Work Comp Act;
- The injured workers sustained an injury or death by accident;
- That arose in the course and scope of his/her job.
What is a Statutory Employee?
Establishing that an injured worker was an employee is normally the easiest of the four requirements. However, Employers are classifying workers as independent contractors more often, causing fewer injured workers to fall under the protections of the Missouri Workers Compensation Act. That is when your Missouri Work Comp Law may try to establish that you were a Statutory Employee.
Even when the injured worker is truly an independent contractor, he or she may still qualify for the protections and benefits of the work comp system as a “statutory employee.”
Who is an Employee Under Missouri Work Comp?
Missouri Statute 287.020.1 defines who is an employee that may benefit under the Missouri Work Comp Act. However, the Missouri legislature does not want employers evading or circumventing their responsibilities to workers simply by hiring independent contractors exclusively. See Brito-Pacheco v. Tina’s Hair Salon (click link for case). Accordingly, Missouri Statute 287.040.1 creates another classification of worker who may benefit from work comp:
287.040. 1. Any person who has work done under contract on or about his premises which is an operation of the usual business which he there carries on shall be deemed an employer and shall be liable under this chapter to such contractor, his subcontractors, and their employees, when injured or killed on or about the premises of the employer while doing work which is in the usual course of his business.
Proving You Are A Statutory Employee
In order to use this section and qualify as a “statutory employee”, the injured worker must prove 3 things:
- the work is performed pursuant to a contract;
- the injury occurs on or about the premises of the statutory employer; and
- the work is in the usual course of the statutory employer’s business.
The first element is obvious and easy to prove or disprove. You either have a contract or you don’t (a written contract is not required). The second element is also easy to prove – did the injury occur on the employer’s property? Simply: yes or no.
The last element – proving usual course of business – is a little more difficult.
Missouri Courts have defined “usual course of business” as “those activities (1) that are routinely done; (2) on a regular and frequent schedule; (3) contemplated in the agreement between the independent contractor and the statutory employer to be repeated over a relatively short span of time; and (4) the performance of which would require the statutory employer to hire permanent employees absent the agreement.”
Basically, if you are a statutory employee, then your boss would have had to hire someone else to do your work if you were unavailable. Otherwise, that work simply would not get done and the company would lose something (and not just a financial loss). Applying this standard to your situation can be very difficult. Plenty of room exists for disagreement and argument.
Navigating the Missouri workers compensation system, and analyzing whether you are a statutory employee, can be a difficult and frustrating process. Working with the work comp lawyers at the BiState Law Center can help you get the answers to need and secure the benefits you deserve.