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Can Temporary Workers Get Workers’ Compensation?

Many people in New Jersey engage in temporary work (work that is expected to last for a period of a few weeks to a few months) at some point in their employment history or as their primary sources of employment. Some workers take on temporary or seasonal year-round, or to provide extra income during certain times of the year, such as the holidays. During the COVID-19 pandemic, with thousands of people across New Jersey laid off from their regular jobs, many have turned to temporary work to help support themselves and their families while waiting for their pre-pandemic jobs to return. 

Unfortunately, temporary workers are exposed to the same risk of workplace accidents as any other worker; however, these workers often may have difficulty in securing the rights and protections they are entitled to when they are injured or come down with an occupational illness while on the job. 

Common Issues for Temporary Workers Facing Risk of Injury in Workplace Accidents

Using temporary workers can create a confusing web of employment relationships among the worker, the employer, and the staffing agency that supplied the temporary worker. If a temporary worker is injured in a workplace accident, the employer and staffing agency may point at one another when the worker tries to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

In some cases, a temporary worker faces a greater risk of a workplace accident than a regular worker. A temporary worker may likely lack the experience and skills and knowledge of safety protocols to reduce his or her risk of accident and injury. Staffing agencies, even if they visit and inspect a temporary worker’s intended worksite (if they perform such inspection at all) may not know what to look for to recognize potential hazards. Staffing agencies also have a financial disincentive to push employers to improve workplace safety for temporary workers since the staffing agency could lose the employer’s business, while the employer may have little or no incentive to improve safety for temporary workers if any injuries result in workers’ compensation claims that the staffing agency will have to deal with. 

Temporary workers who have to deal with workplace hazards may also fear speaking out and losing their placement or the opportunity for an offer of permanent employment. 

Pursuing Workers’ Compensation Benefits

New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system extends to all temporary, seasonal, and part-time workers. Therefore, a temporary worker injured on the job is entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Furthermore, New Jersey case law holds that a company utilizing a temporary worker from a staffing agency is often considered a “special employer,” while the staffing agency remains the worker’s regular employer. This can limit an injured temporary worker’s rights to pursue a personal injury claim against the company where he or she was assigned and injured.

At a minimum, an injured temporary worker is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which in New Jersey can include all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for a workplace injury or occupational illness, partial wage replacement for time missed from work, and payments for partial or total disability.

Protections for Temporary Workers

Temporary workers also receive various legal protections under federal and state law. At a minimum, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a safe working environment for their temporary workers. OSHA also requires both the staffing agency and the employer to jointly investigate and report temporary worker accidents to federal regulators.

In addition, the state of New Jersey imposes various licensing and regulatory requirements on staffing agencies, including the responsibility to carry workers’ compensation insurance. 

Contact a Rochelle Park Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your New Jersey Workplace Injury Case

A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although New Jersey Workers’ Compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the Workers’ Comp benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients in Hackensack, Teaneck, Fort Lee, Fair Lawn, and all across New Jersey. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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