Just what is a gig economy? If you aren’t sure what the term is that you’ve been hearing, it’s okay — you aren’t alone. In today’s economy, there is a higher demand for freelance and per-job contract workers than in any other time in history. These “gigs,” or jobs, have led to a new type of economy where employers are working with people who can perform a task or offer a specific skill without the need to hire them as employees.
This economy of piecework has made worker safety a bit confusing. Employers who have on-site employees know that they have to keep their sites free from hazard, but they may not know that they are responsible, or could be, for their per-task employees as well. In today’s day and age, worker safety may be falling through the cracks.
Understanding Gig Economy Liability
Some gig jobs are potentially dangerous, particularly those of bicycle messengers and transportation network workers. These jobs carry a high rate of both injury and fatality. Independent contractors are typically responsible for their own safety, and they may not pay much attention to it. A lot of workplace safety questions center around who exactly is an employee and who is an independent contractor.
So just when are you liable for an injury sustained by a contract worker? The laws here can be a bit hazy. According to OSHA, if you operate a site and hire contract workers, you are not in the clear when it comes to providing a safe work environment. If a contractor is hurt while performing work for you on your site and is injured, you could be held legally liable.
On the other hand, let’s say that you have a person working for you and they are completing the job out of their own home. Should that worker be injured while performing their job, chances are that you have no legal responsibility. It is up to that contractor to keep their home office or work environment safe and healthy.
Considerations for Non-Permanent Employees
There are more regulations for workers who are considered temporary, seasonal and part-time. If you own your own business and hire people to help you complete some part of the job, it is in your best interests to determine whether or not they are an employee, an independent contractor or a temporary worker. The classification of these people can help you determine your obligations as far as OSHA is concerned.
If you are hurt on the job in San Luis Obispo, you may have the right to workers’ compensation. You may also have the right to initiate an OSHA inspection of the premises. Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation. We can help you make the best legal decisions appropriate to your unique situation. Call today to speak with a member of our team.