Seasonal jobs are an especially attractive point of employment for people who want to pick up extra work during holiday months. Summer in the US is the most popular time for seasonal work, given the long summer holidays in America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a predicted increase of four million new summer job opportunities by 2026.
Do the standard laws protecting workers through worker’s compensation also apply to seasonal employees? Prospective seasonal employees have every reason to be wary about whether or not they will be covered by their future employer on the off chance that they get injured at work.
There is some nuance here, but the short answer is yes. The same federal and state laws that protect full-time employees by guaranteeing them workers’ compensation in the event of an injury also apply to part-time workers and seasonal employees. There are a few considerations, however, that you need to take into account.
Workers Compensation in the United States
Workers’ compensation is a critically important part of American working life. Many of us may take it for granted, but it has actually not been around all that long (roughly the last one hundred years, depending on the state you live in). This type of coverage is by no means guaranteed around the world.
Workers receive this type of compensation when they are injured on the job and are required to stay home or stay in the hospital to recover before they can return to work. In extreme cases, workers may receive temporary total disability (TTD) pay that can sustain an employee for months or even years, while they recover from an injury.
While all states have workers’ compensation laws, some allow for a higher minimum threshold of employees than others. In most states, workers’ comp laws kick in when a company has just one employee. However, if you live in Missouri, for example, an employer with less than five workers is not legally obligated to provide workers’ compensation to anybody.
This is something to keep in mind before taking a seasonal job. Make sure you check what the laws are in your state before you take that job. If you end up injured in a state where you won’t be covered, the extra cash from the job may not be worth it.
Read Your Contract
It matters greatly who exactly is employing you. If you go to work for a company with dozens of employees on a three-month contract over the summer, you are guaranteed to be covered under worker’s compensation laws, both at the federal and state levels. But, and this is absolutely critical to understand, you have to actually have a contract with that employer.
If you are employed by a temp agency instead, the situation becomes a little murkier. Although you still have legal protections, a workplace accident might result in the insurance companies of your temp agency and real-life employer fighting each other over who is supposed to take responsibility. During that time, you might not receive the money that you’re owed.
What to Do if You Are Hurt at Work
If you are injured at your seasonal job, be sure to document your case and find witnesses to the incident. You will need to report the incident to your immediate supervisor and fill out workers’ comp paperwork. You may also be required to see a doctor of your company’s choice at some point in the process. You should seek immediate emergency care to get a medical record of your injury started.
If your employer refuses to file a workers’ comp case or your case is denied, you should seriously consider getting yourself legal representation. Even if you are denied at first, most cases will eventually be resolved.