How Can Workers’ Compensation Help Millennials in Today’s Age?
Workers’ Compensation for Millennials
Millennials make up the country’s largest generation, comprised of roughly 75 million young Americans. This generation grew up in the fast-paced world of tech and have been exposed to the new-age employment opportunities offered from the proliferation of the “gig” economy. Many millennial employees have embraced this work structure because of the flexibility associated with working for a company like Uber, Lyft, Caviar, and so forth. Workers generally get to set their own schedule and work when they prefer, rather than adopting the traditional 9-to-5 model to which many other companies adhere. However, various occurrences of being injured at work could be aided with workers’ compensation and how to properly hire a professional for support.
A drawback to the ever-expanding gig economy is the growing number of individuals, especially millennials, who lack the traditional benefits associated with full-time employment; namely, workers’ compensation benefits.
Employee versus Independent Contractor
The vast majority of gig economy companies do not offer workers’ comp as a benefit since they classify their workers as independent contractors. When you are classified as an independent contractor, your employer is exempt from having to offer certain benefits that are associated with a full-time employee. The classification of workers as independent contractors means these employers are effectively shifting the cost of work-related injuries and loss of life to the general public.
Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health recently told NPR that many gig economy workers are making money to pay the bills, but they are missing those critical benefits that can prove to be invaluable during a difficult time or financial challenge – primarily health insurance, paid sick leave, and workers comp. Ms. Martinez described it as a “Tinder economy” where a temporary worker is hired, then their supervisor essentially swipes left and the worker is left to fend for him or herself.
Take, for example, the tragic death of a teenage food delivery worker. He was delivering food on his bicycle while working for Caviar, a food delivery app service. He was hit by a dump truck and lost his life. His family filed a workers’ compensation claim and were denied any benefits because the teen was classified as an independent contractor.
This tragic incident has started a national conversation about how to best protect millennial workers, including proposals to modify state and federal laws.
Portable Workers Comp Legislation Introduced in Congress and States
Multiple states are debating proposals to impose a monetary fee on transactions involving gig employers like Uber in order to create a fund to provide portable benefits for gig economy workers.
Members of Congress have taken notice and proposed a similar piece of legislation titled, “The Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act.” This federal bill would create a set of portable benefits overseen by the Department of Labor. The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA).
The legislation would authorize approximately $20 million in grant-funding that could be accessed by states and local governments to develop portable benefits for independent contractors and other self-employed workers, including millennial workers.
The portable set of benefits would include options for a worker to invest in retirement savings, obtain workers’ compensation if they suffer a work-related injury, purchase a life insurance policy and/or disability insurance policy, obtain sick leave, and so forth.
What to do if You are Injured on the Job
If you are a Millennial working for a company as a full-time or part-time employee, the process for applying for workers’ comp benefits remains the same. The first step is to file an accident report with your employer. A number of states provide only a brief period of time in which a worker is required to report an accident in order to qualify for workers’ comp benefits. As a result, you need to report a job-related accident to your employer as soon as possible, even if you do not know you are injured or you think your injury is relatively minor.
Reporting the accident is important regardless of workers’ comp because reporting the incident could result in your employer implementing important new safety protocols that could help prevent other workers from suffering a similar injury.
The next step should be to seek medical attention for your bodily injuries. If necessary, you should make a visit to your local emergency room to get checked out. One of the worst things you can do is try to “tough it out” and forego seeking medical attention. This creates the risk that you have an injury and it gets worse as time goes along.
Your Doctor versus the Employer’s Doctor
Depending on the facts of your particular case, your employer might require that you visit a specific medical professional in order for the employer to cover the cost of treatment. It is import to understand that if the employer-selected doctor provides a diagnosis you do not agree with, you have the right to get a second opinion and see a doctor of your preference. Even if your visit to the second doctor is not covered under workers’ comp, it may be worthwhile because that doctor may make an unbiased and objective diagnosis that results in you qualifying for more benefits under workers’ comp.
New Jersey Workers’ Comp Attorney Ready to Assist
If you are a millennial worker and you were seriously injured while on the job, now is the time to contact the experienced and skilled New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys at The Law Offices of Craig A. Altman today to schedule an in-person consultation. Call today our New Jersey office at (856) 327-8899 or fill out a quick contact form so a member of our legal team can connect with you.