Nearly 13 million Americans work more than one job. Some people also take on temporary jobs in retail, warehousing and delivery during the holiday season. Here are some reminders about holiday work to protect yourself and your rights to benefits such as workers’ compensation.
Temporary jobs tend to have higher injury rates – Studies show that new employees are more likely to get injured on the job. If you are starting an unfamiliar job, you are more likely to get hurt. Don’t worry temporary and new employees can still claim workers’ compensation.
Lost-time/temporary disability based on wages for job where you are injured – Workers compensation pays temporary disability when you miss work because of an injury. The problem with getting hurt at a part-time job is that if you are unable to work because of that injury, you are only paid temporary disability based on the part-time job wages. You can’t be compensated by workers’ compensation for lost income from full-time or other jobs unless you can argue that your job is seasonal. It is hard to prove season employment under Nebraska workers’ compensation law.
But employees can be creative in adding benefits to increase temporary disability. Permanent disability is paid assuming a 40-hour week under the Nebraska workers’ compensation act. (See Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-121(4))
How an injury at a part-time job can affect employment at your full-time job – Some employers are more willing to accommodate employees who were hurt on the job. If you get hurt at a holiday job, your full-time employer may not let you come back to work unless you have no restrictions. That is a questionable practice under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Are you an employee or independent contractor?– The answer to this question is that if you are working a holiday job, you are an employee. Package delivery is a growing job with the expansion of online shopping? Many delivery services try to classify their workers as contractors as a way to avoid paying workers’ compensation. If you get injured as a contractor working on a delivery job, it is very likely you can bring a case for benefits under the Nebraska workers’ compensation act. But it will likely require help from an attorney to get those benefits.
As the holiday season approaches, many people will take on second or holiday jobs. Workers taking on such jobs will be taking on a heightened risk of injury. One academic study showed that temporary employees are two to three times more likely to be injured. An Omaha-based construction company found that 65 percent of lost-time injuries took place in the first 90 days of employment (this link is a downloadable presentation). This blog post will describe some causes of injury and then talk about some particular challenges faced by new employees who are injured.
Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of work injury. This hazard can be particularly acute during the winter in retail and restaurant jobs because customers will track in snow and other moisture. Strain from lifting is also a common injury. Warehouse work is in high demand over the holiday season, and one risk particular to such work is the risk of falling pallets or boxes.
One challenge that new employees face when they get hurt is how to calculate their disability benefits. A worker may not have been employed long enough for an employer and/or insurer to accurately determine how much the employee should be paid in benefits after getting hurt. One approach may to be base this benefit rate on pay of similarly situated co-workers. If you believe you are getting shortchanged on benefits because you were a new employee when you were hurt, you should contact a lawyer.
Workers’ compensation is supposed to pay you benefits regardless of your fault in the injury. But fault can still play a role in work-injury claims. If your injury was the fault of someone other than your employer or a co-worker, then you might be able to pursue a negligence case against that party. Unfortunately, some employers have tried to reintroduce fault into the workers’ compensation system, to the detriment of newer employees. Some employers will fire or discipline employees who have preventable or lost-time accidents during the beginning of their employment. In my view, such policies amount to employers almost admitting that they are retaliating against employees who get hurt at work. If you have been disciplined under such a policy, you should contact an attorney.
An estimated 7 million Americans work at least two jobs. As the holidays approach, many people will take on holiday jobs as well. Getting hurt at a second job or a holiday job can also create problems at your full-time or regular job. This post will help you navigate some of those issues:
What benefits are you entitled to when you are hurt at a second or holiday job?Your benefits are limited by the wages you are receiving at your second job. You might be able to increase this amount with tips or other perks, but you cannot be paid for wage loss from your first job. If you do have permanent disability, that will be paid based off of a 40-hour week even if you worked part time.
Receipt of workers’ compensation benefits assumes that you are an actual employee and not an independent contractor. For most relatively low-wage part-time work, this is a fair assumption. But since I wrote my holiday job post back in 2013, there has been the emergence of ride-hailing companies like Uber and other sharing-economy companies that have blurred the lines between employee and independent contractor. If you get hurt working for one of these companies, you should contact an attorney, as the distinction between an employee and independent contractor is very fact specific.
How does a work injury at a second job affect your benefits at your regular job?
Assuming your other job’s workers’ compensation insurance company picks up your medical benefits, your health insurance from your regular job would not be affected. But in a disputed case, you may have to use health insurance from your regular job to pay for your workers’ compensation injury at your second job. In that case, you should list workers’ compensation from the company where you were hurt as the primary insurance and your private health insurance as your secondary insurance. Also be aware that if you settle your workers’ compensation claim, you may have to pay back your private health insurance. If you go to trial and win an award of medical benefits, your medical providers should refund the private health insurance and reimburse you for out-of-pocket expenses. In a disputed case, you should contact an attorney not only to get benefits but also to health navigate reimbursement.
Short-term and long-term disability
Larger employers will often have short-term and long-term disability policies to help employees make up for lost income. These are a mixed bag. Some won’t let you collect benefits for work injuries, some may allow you to double collect workers’ compensation and disability, while others may require you reduce benefits. These policies often have repayment policies if a workers’ compensation case is settled as well. It is helpful to have a lawyer to help you with this process as well.
How does a work injury at a second job affect your employment at your regular job?
Assuming your injury requires you to miss time from work, you can claim the Family and Medical Leave Act, assuming your employer has 50 employees, you have worked there for a year, and you have worked there for at least 1,250 hours over the last year. Assuming your employer has 15 employees, your employer would be required to make some reasonable accommodations for your injury under the Americans with Disabilities Act. You should reach out to a lawyer if either employer requires you to return to work without restrictions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has stated in final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 that policies that force employee to return to work without restrictions are unlawful. Ironically, if you are hurt at your second job, that employer is probably more likely to return you to work at light duty so that they can avoid or reduce what you are owed in temporary benefits. The new ADA regulations were intended in part to end how work-caused and non-work-caused disabilities are treated.