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Independent contractors

How are independent contractors handled under the workers' compensation law.

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What is the definition an independent contractor and do they need to be covered?

There is no simple rule of thumb to determine who is an independent contractor for purposes of workers’ compensation claims and disputes. Determination of independent contractor status is always a question of fact. Inquiries about independent contractors should go to your own attorney.

In Massachusetts under MGL c. 149, § 148B, workers are presumed to be employees. An employer who wants to treat someone as an independent contractor has to show that the work:

  1. Is done without the employer’s direction and control 
  2. Is performed outside the usual course of the employers business 
  3. Is done by someone who has their own, independent business or trade doing that kind of work

The Attorney General’s office has issued an advisory on independent contractors that:

  • Explains the purpose of the law
  • Discusses the 3-part test for independent contractor classification
  • Includes enforcement guidelines
  • Describes the areas of concern and factors that the Attorney General’s office may use to determine enforcement


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