Tips for hiring temporary workers or subcontractors

Do temps need safety training? Are subcontractors covered for workers’ compensation?

If your workforce includes temporary employees or independent subcontractors, you may have questions like these.

Even these workers need safety training and workers’ compensation coverage. Here are a few things you should know about their workers’ compensation coverage and safety.

Hiring temporary workers

When you hire a temp, you need to be sure that the outside temp agency will be liable for payment of workers’ compensation benefits in the event of a work injury.

Beware of scanty contracts, either deliberately or unwittingly silent on important legal considerations including workers’ comp coverage. Consider having contracts from temp agencies reviewed by an employment attorney before you sign them.

Keeping temporary workers safe

Give temporary employees the same safety training you give regular employees. Don’t skimp on safety training just because someone will only be working with you for a short time.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration , “Both host employers and staffing agencies have roles in complying with workplace health and safety requirements and they share responsibility for ensuring worker safety and health.”

Here are a few questions that Vice President of Montu Staffing Solutions Paul Gilliam suggested employers should ask their temp agencies to keep workers safe, in a presentation at the 2016 Minnesota Safety and Health Conference:

  • Will the agency provide personal protective equipment for the temporary workers?
  • What safety training will be provided by the agency?
  • Does the temporary worker require any additional help to perform the job?
  • Is worker safety a company priority?
  • Will you visit the worksite and conduct a safety assessment?

According to Gilliam, common causes of injuries among temporary employees include workers not being properly trained for the jobs they’re performing, a lack of supervision or being unprepared for the working conditions.

For more resources on temporary worker safety, visit OSHA’s Protecting Temporary Workers page . OSHA has also offered guidance on injury and illness recordkeeping requirements for temporary workers.

Are subcontractors covered for workers’ compensation?

Hiring an uninsured subcontractor can pose a significant liability to your organization.

Anyone working independently for your organization needs to be covered for work injuries. An independent contractor working alone may or may not carry workers’ comp insurance.

If contractors say they have coverage, you’ll need to get certificates of insurance at the time they are engaged. Your SFM premium auditor will look for these certificates at the time of your premium audit.

Some entity types with no employees may not be required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and if this is the case then you’ll need to get insurance certificates for general liability with adequate minimum limits of coverage.

Are subcontractors truly ‘independent’?

You’ll need to verify that the individual meets the state’s legal criteria to be considered an independent contractor. The specific requirements vary by state, and an employment attorney is your best resource to make sure your contractors meet them.

In addition to verifying coverage and determining “independent” status, SFM attorneys recommend having a subcontractor agreement drawn up by an employment attorney for all subcontractors to sign before they go to work for you.

For more information on Minnesota’s guidelines, see SFM’s General Contractor’s Liability Legal Advisory  and Hiring Subcontractors CompTalk .

This is not intended to serve as legal advice for individual fact-specific legal cases or as a legal basis for your employment practices.

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