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Holiday Employee and Work Injuries: Know Your Rights 

Holiday Employee and Work Injuries Know Your Rights
Holiday Employee and Work Injuries Know Your Rights

The holiday season is highlighted by more people on the road, more shoppers in the stores, and a higher likelihood of accidents, injuries, and fatalities. This increase in demand for seasonal (and non-seasonal) products results in many industries bringing in seasonal employees to pick up the slack and ensure all orders are fulfilled, and customers are served.

Seasonal employees are necessary for many businesses during the holidays; however, they are also beneficial for those looking for the chance to make a little extra money to cover the increased costs that come with this time of year.

Working as a seasonal employee benefits everyone (as mentioned above). However, in this position, it is important to understand that you don’t have the same legal rights as other workers (this includes temporary employees, part-time employees, and full-time employees).

As experienced West Palm Beach workers’ compensation attorneys, we fully understand the risks seasonal workers face and their rights after being injured on the job. Understanding these rights will help ensure you get the compensation you are entitled to.

Receiving Pay for the Job You Do as a Seasonal Worker in Florida

When you are hired as a seasonal employee, you are entitled to receive the promised wage and receive that wage on time. Seasonal employees are also legally entitled to receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. This equates to time and a half for each hour over the 40 hours. Sometimes, seasonal employees are given holiday pay at a rate of time and a half their usual pay; however, this is not legally required in Florida.

The legal minimum wage in Florida is $11.00 (which started on September 30, 2022). While this is true, there are exceptions. The exceptions apply primarily to tipped employees who have a required minimum wage of $7.98.

An Expectation of Safety for Seasonal Employees in Florida

A top concern for many seasonal workers is safety. Because many seasonal employees are hired as delivery drivers, working in factories, and for other dangerous positions, their job comes with a certain level of inherent risk. Also, many seasonal workers are young and don’t have the necessary experience to handle the busy environments they are working in. This is particularly the case if the seasonal employee’s job involves using heavy machinery (including commercial vehicles).

The state of Florida requires all employers to have workers’ compensation insurance (with some exceptions). If you are hired as a seasonal employee and experience an on-the-job injury, you may be able to receive compensation. To be eligible, it is necessary for the injury to have happened on the job site or to be work-related in some way.

The purpose of workers’ compensation coverage is to cover things like:

  • Critical injury-related costs
  • Permanent disability
  • Temporary disability
  • Death benefits
  • Retraining benefits

Florida states that you must report the on-the-job accident and injury within 30 days. Additionally, all petitions for these benefits must be filed in two years (with some exceptions to this rule). Hiring a West Palm Beach workers’ compensation attorney is recommended in these situations to ensure you don’t miss these important deadlines and file your claim promptly.

Seasonal Worker Classification Mistakes to Know

An issue for some seasonal workers lies in how their employer classifies them. Some employers will classify workers as independent contractors to help reduce paperwork and save time. In some situations, this is fine. However, most seasonal workers are not actually independent contractors, and when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits, it can create some problems.

When you are classified as an independent contractor, it essentially means that you are working for yourself or “self-employed.” If you are classified like this, it means you can do the following:

  • Set your own hours
  • Hire an assistant
  • Purchase equipment

They also have other duties that are typically reserved for the owner of a business.

If you are hired as a seasonal worker for a retail establishment, factory, or delivery driver (to name a few), you likely don’t have these abilities. For example, you won’t be able to set your hours or buy the equipment you need to do the job you were hired for. Instead, your manager will determine your hours, and your employer will provide all your equipment. This is the situation for most seasonal workers and why they would not be considered independent contractors.

However, in other situations, it may apply. An example will be if a local delivery company hires you for the holiday season. You may be required to use your own vehicle and are only paid for your work rather than receiving an hourly rate.

The reason your employment classification matters are related to taxes. An independent contractor must pay their own taxes (which are significantly higher than someone hired as an employee). If you are hired as a seasonal worker, you are put on the business’s payroll.

Another issue is that independent workers in Florida are excluded from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If you are classified as an independent contractor when you are hired and you are injured on the job, you will not be eligible for benefits or compensation. If you are injured, you will have to cover all related costs.

If you are hired as a seasonal employee, though, then you can receive worker’s compensation benefits.

Let Our West Palm Beach Attorneys Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Case

Working during the holiday season is a great way to earn money to pay for the extra costs that accompany this time of year. However, you must ensure you are hired and classified properly to get workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured on the job. If you have questions or need help with a workers’ compensation claim, contact our legal team at Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. for assistance.


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