The recession may be over, but in Tennessee we felt the pinch for a long time. One area where some companies cut corners was in construction, where it’s easy to find and hire day laborers under the guise of “independent contractors.” By doing so, construction companies can cut costs by almost 30%. The practice has been so widespread that our own government has set up a “tip” line to report this kind of fraud, which they call misclassification.
But our state’s very own Odom Construction Systems in Knoxville bucked that trend, earning them a special shout-out by Bloomberg.com. So we’d like to salute them for doing the right thing when it comes to Tennessee workers. But we also want to look into what this type of practice does to workers who get hurt on the job site.
An independent contractor is, by nature of the title, ineligible to file for workers’ compensation with the company he or she is working for. In fact, an employer doesn’t even have to include the amount of contractors working for the company when s/he calculates workers’ compensation costs. This can save an employer hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each year.
But it’s a pretty shady way to do business. The new workers’ compensation laws in Tennessee (which take effect this summer) don’t appear to do anything to help such contractors who have been injured on the job. A lot of companies are hiring workers at fair rates, like Odom, despite the hit to their own bottom line. Because of that, injured workers can get the help they need; and, doing so will put millions of dollars back into the system to keep Tennessee at work.
So, kudos to those who are doing right by their employees. You’re deserving of our respect.
When you or your family is hurt, contact the family who cares. Call Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin today at 423.212.5042 to schedule your free initial consultation, or contact us online.