Most employees in PA are covered by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. This is a topic that has been mentioned previously in this blog. However, that thought begs the question – who is actually an “employee”? This can be a complicated topic and analysis, where one must differentiate the “employee” from the “independent contractor” (the latter not covered by the PA Workers’ Compensation Act). Ultimately, this is a determination based upon the facts in each specific case. A recent decision from the Commonwealth Court of PA does remind us of the significant factors.
Suppose you go to work for a company. You sign an agreement, which says that you are an independent contractor. You agree that taxes will not be withheld. You are paid by the job, not by your time. You have the right to decline job assignments. You are not required to wear your employer’s uniform at work. Your boss is not even on location when you are doing your job. So, are you an employee? Well, that would depend! Though these are some of the factors to be examined, there are certainly others.
In Berkebile Towing and Recovery v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Harr, State Workers’ Insurance Fund and Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund), the answer was yes. Some other facts, as found by the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ), would be helpful to understanding the decision: