Controlling work may control immunity for workers’ comp

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in Human Resources

A temporary employment agency got Raymond Shaw a job at a Thrift Drug warehouse and paid his wages, insurance and other benefits. But when he tripped on a bolt, it turned out the temp company wasn't his employer, at least for workers' compensation purposes.

Because Thrift Drug controlled Shaw's day-to-day work, supervising and evaluating him, Thrift was immune from legal action under the Pennsylvania workers' comp law when he sued after the injury.

Paying the wages wasn't enough to make the temp agency the employer. In fact, Shaw had no contact with the agency after he started working at Thrift. (Shaw v. Thrift Drug Inc., No. 98-5170, E.D. Pa., 1999)

Advice: Make clear in using temps that you will provide the training and guidance about how they will perform the daily functions of the job. Of course, retaining the right to control the temp's work can create an employment relationship in other contexts, such as unemployment compensation, taxes, overtime and discrimination liability. So weigh all the potential ramifications when negotiating with temp agencies and employees.

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