Miss. Code Ann. § 71-3-3(d) states “‘Employee’ means any person, including a minor whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, in the service of an employer under any contract of hire or apprenticeship, written or oral, express or implied, provided that there shall be excluded therefrom all independent contractors . . . .” and in section (r) independent contractor “means any individual, firm or corporation who contracts to do a piece of work according to his own methods without being subject to the control of his employer except as to the results of the work, and who has the right to employ and direct the outcome of the workers independent of the employer and free from any superior authority in the employer to say how the specified work shall be done or what the laborers shall do as the work progresses, one who undertakes to produce a given result without being in any way controlled as to the methods by which he attains the result.”
This does not mean that just because an employer believes that a worker is an independent contractor that the employer is exempt from providing workers’ compensation benefits. A fact-based inquiry is used to determine the status of an employee versus an independent contractor and the definitions distinguishing the two under the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act above are the starting point.
Courts have used two tests to answer the question of coverage versus exclusion, the control test, and the nature-of-work doctrine. The control test is aptly named because it focuses on control, who is in charge of the details of the work being performed, the distinct occupation of the one employed, the skills required for a particular occupation, who supplies the tools and/or instruments and place of work for the person doing the work, the amount of time the person is employed on that job, the method of payment for work performed, and whether or not the work performed is part of the regular business of the employer.
The nature-of-work test involves a review of the statutory aim of coverage, the efficacy of the control test and purpose of coverage, the relationship of the work done and the arrangement in question, and avoidance or manipulation of the control test.
If you are injured on the job and have questions about your statutory position as an employee or independent contractor, please give us a call. It is important to protect your rights under the law and arm yourself with information and an experienced Mississippi workers’ compensation lawyer.