With traditional employment in Illinois, you are typically granted the right to workers’ compensation if you’re injured on the job. If you’re a cab driver, for example, and you get hurt, you may be compensated for your medical bills and your time off. However, the rise of the “sharing economy” – where services are advertised by a company but provided by an individual who is an independent contractor – has added an additional layer of complexity to the determination of who can receive workers comp benefits.
Take, for example, the upswing in contract work. Drivers who work for Uber and Lyft are similar to taxi drivers. They just use their own cars and they pick up “jobs” online.
Even if they work full-time for these companies, though, they are not considered to be employees in any legal sense. They are contract workers. This means that they are not automatically granted the same rights to workers’ compensation that actual employees would get.
It’s worth noting that a lot of these companies may have actual employees to go along with their contract workers. For instance, they may have offices in one location that work to run the website, coordinate the drivers and send out payments. However, the bulk of the workforce that goes out every day and picks up riders is made from contract workers. The companies do not owe these contractors anything when they are hurt.
This is especially important in industries that are dangerous, such as transportation. There is the constant risk of an accident, and drivers have also been beaten up, robbed and even had their cars stolen while working.
If you’re a contract worker, it’s critical for you to know what rights you do or do not have to workers compensation, as you never want to assume you’re covered in ways that you’re not.
Source: Forbes, “What Happens To Uber Drivers And Other Sharing Economy Workers Injured On The Job?” Ellen Huet, accessed Mar. 18, 2015