October 22, 2018
Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws require all employers to provide accident and injury coverage for employees who are injured on the job. This protection extends to many full-time, compensated workers, but excludes individuals like independent contractors, who work temporary hours and technically employ themselves.
Although some may draw correlations between independent contractors and other part-time employees — such as interns and temporary workers (temps) — most other employee statuses are covered by workers’ compensation, though the actual status of an individual depends on the specifics of their case.
Interns’ Workers’ Compensation Rights
In almost every case, internships, whether paid or unpaid, can constitute legitimate employment status under workers’ compensation. Because students undertaking internships are advantaging their employers directly, it is difficult to prove they aren’t employees, even if they’re not on payroll.
Intern or Volunteer?
The only way to disqualify an intern is to prove he or she is actually a volunteer, which requires employers to prove several legal principles, which will be difficult depending on the type of work the intern performed. Working in exchange for non-classroom experience, completing tasks beneficial to the employer, and displacing other employees’ tasks are all ways an intern can be a true employee of a for-profit business who deserves workers’ compensation benefits.
The rules for unpaid interns are slightly different when the student is working for a non-profit organization. There are a few more circumstances that would name an unpaid intern a volunteer under wage and hour laws for non-profit organizations, so if you’ve been hurt while working for a non-profit, you should consider contacting a workers’ compensation attorney who can better address your case.
What Interns Can Do If Injured on the Job
Most interns are covered by workers’ compensation through their employer and should go directly to the HR department or their supervisor if they’ve been hurt on the job.
If an intern is told he or she isn’t eligible for this coverage, or if your claim results in an unsatisfying settlement, you can contact the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board or a qualified workers’ compensation attorney.
Temps’ Workers’ Compensation Rights
Temporary workers are also covered under Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws, though not through the employer they directly work for. Instead, if a temp is injured on the job, they would most likely file a workers’ compensation claim through their agency or the company who “leased” them to their current employer.
In some cases, such as construction crews who hire temporary workers during busy seasons, the staffing agency and employer negotiate a contract to specify which party would be responsible in the case of a worksite injury.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is both party’s responsibility to keep the work environment safe for all employees, whether full-time or temporary.
Part-time and seasonal employees are also covered under workers’ compensation, provided they aren’t considered independent contractors. However, because the terms of these workers’ contracts can be different depending on the employer, it is helpful to work with a workers’ compensation attorney to make sure your injury claim is valid.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys On Your Side
When you only expect to work for a few months for a specific employer, it’s frustrating to experience a workplace injury that keeps you from fulfilling the rest of your commitment. However, you don’t have to face this confusing, technical process alone. Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys are only a phone call away.
At Hensley Legal Group, we protect and guide employees through the claims process, representing their interests to employers and insurance agencies to help them settle their claim for an appropriate amount. Call or contact us online today to start a conversation about your case.