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California employers' workers' comp responsibilities expanding

Many independent contractors in California are about to receive a welcome and long-overdue benefit beginning on the first day of 2015. That's when AB 1897, a new labor law, kicks in.

Under the law, employers will see their responsibilities expand when they use an independent contractor with at least six workers on the employer's jobsite to do any part of the employer's "usual course of business." In those situations, the employer will be jointly responsible for the workers' wages and workers' compensation insurance.

It seems likely that AB 1897 might have a significant impact in construction and manufacturing, as well as other industries.

Both employers and workers who might be affected should examine carefully the language of the law. According to the National Law Review, AB 1897 is only relevant when a company gets from a labor contractor workers to perform the company's "regular and customary work" on its property or one of its jobsites.

So if a manufacturing company makes widgets, but brings in an independent contractor and workers to sweep the floors once a week, AB 1897 would not be in effect because the employer's "regular and customary" work is making widgets, not sweeping floors.

The law also excludes some small businesses: those with 25 or fewer workers, including the company's own employees and the workers employed by the independent contractor.

If you work for an independent contractor on another company's Coachella Valley jobsite and are injured and denied workers' comp, speak with an attorney who knows the law and the appeals process.

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