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Who Is Considered an “Employee” for Arizona Workers Compensation Benefits

One area of our practice that has seen a lot of action in recent years is that of who is considered an “employee” for purposes of qualifying for workers compensation benefits in Arizona?  What if the injured person was hired to do day labor at a Home Depot?  What if the employer specifically had them sign an agreement saying they weren’t an employee but rather an independent contractor? 

The Arizona Statute sets forth a lengthy definition of “employee”, with numerous specifically delineated categories.  But for the majority of cases, the applicable portion of the definition is as follows:  Every person in the service of any employer subject to the provisions of this chapter, including aliens and minors legally or illegally permitted to work for hire, but not including a person whose employment is both, (1) casual; (2) not in the usual course of trade, business or occupation of the employer. 

The purpose of the wording of the statute is to place the cost of injuries on entities that can pass the cost on to the consumer, not to burden those who are simply obtaining personal services.  I always give the example that, as an attorney, if I hire a contractor to build a wall between two offices in my building, they are probably
not an employee of mine, as that is not the usual trade or business of an attorney.  But if I hire someone to research case law, and they sustain an injury, they would more likely be found to be my employee.  This same test applies to my Home Depot day laborer question above.  If they are hired to do personal services around your house – probably not your employee.  If you hire them to help on your roofing crew for your roofing business – you better hope you have workers compensation coverage.

There are several other factors that are considered in determining whether or not an injured worker is considered an “Employee” for purposes of Arizona Workers Compensation.  You should consult with an attorney who limits their practice to Arizona Workers Compensation if you have additional questions. 

I’ll discuss the Independent Contractor Agreements and Illegal Alien issues in a separate post.

Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are attorneys with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.  They have represented thousands of injured workers before the Industrial Commission of Arizona.