There are over 127,000 temporary workers in the state of New Jersey. And if you’re one of them, you may be surprised to learn you absolutely are entitled to workman’s comp if you get injured on an assignment.
There’s a reason not many people know. For one thing, some publications erroneously report temp workers aren’t entitled to workman’s comp. What they might mean is the third-party employer who owns the job site isn’t responsible for it. And temp employees don’t often get it, in part because employers are all-too-willing to lie about it.
Knowing your rights is the first step to protecting yourself.
You probably need workman’s comp even more than full-time employees do.
Workplace conditions can be more dangerous for temporary workers than for full-time employees. There are three reasons for this.
First, light industrial jobs dominate the industry, which means we’re already talking about warehouse and assembly jobs where injuries are more likely to occur. Of course, even offices can be unsafe workspaces under the right conditions.
Second, many staffing agency clients know it’s very easy to replace anyone who complains, and so try to save money by cutting corners on safety. For example, one third-party employer required temps to enter a freezer without insulated suits.
Finally, third-party employers don’t usually invest in proper training. And some try to make temp workers do work outside the scope of both their assignment and their expertise, such as working a forklift.
Your agency must carry workman’s comp insurance on your behalf.
You might have noticed when you signed up with the temp agency you were required to fill out W-4 forms because the agency is the one signing your checks and withholding your taxes for you.
They’re also the ones who are supposed to be carrying workman’s comp insurance on your behalf. So why do so many of them get away with failing to file claims? Simply put, most temporary employees start their inquiries with the third-party employer, are told they are ineligible, and never pursue the matter any further.
Keep this in mind if you get injured on the job. The employer you’re going to report to is not your on-site boss, but your contact back at the temporary agency who hired you.
Workman’s comp is payable from the first day of employment.
You won’t get much in the way of wage replacement if you take a serious injury on your first day on the job. But you can get hurt five minutes after reporting to a job site and be eligible for benefits.
And lost wages aren’t the only thing you should be trying to claim. You need workman’s comp to pay your medical bills. And if the injury is permanent and life-altering, you’re entitled to monetary compensation for that, as well.
But you probably should expect the agency to fight you every step of the way. The agency doesn’t want their premiums to go up. And you should expect the insurer to fight you even harder. They don’t really want to pay out.
As a temporary worker your position is precarious. Strengthen it by turning to a qualified workman’s comp attorney. It’s the only way you can reliably protect your rights.