The use of temp agencies and employment leasing companies is becoming more and more common in today’s workforce. Sometimes these situations arise when an employer needs short-term labor on a temporary basis, but more and more companies are leasing workers on a more or less permanent basis. Generally, Massachusetts law requires that workers’ compensation coverage be available for injured workers, and temp or leased employment situations are no exception. Sometimes that coverage is purchased by the temp or leasing agency, and sometimes by the employer. In either case, workers’ compensation coverage is typically available for an injured worker. However, if the employer caused the worker’s injury, it is sometimes possible to pursue a third-party claim against the employer to provide additional benefits to the injured worker.
Unfortunately, determining whether it is possible to pursue a third-party case for a temp or leased worker is not always easy. Massachusetts courts have held that if the employer, rather than the temp or leasing company, provides the workers’ compensation coverage, immunity applies to the employer. In that case, even if the employer caused the worker’s injuries, the worker is not able to sue the employer. There are also times when the worker is barred from suing the employer even when the temp or leasing agency provides the coverage.
Workers who are entering for temp or leased employee arrangements should fully and carefully review any employment contract they are asked to sign. There is often critical language in these contracts that causes the worker to waive any right he or she might have to sue their employer for workplace injuries. Unfortunately, Massachusetts courts have held that these types of waivers are enforceable. Therefore, before entering a temp or leased worker arrangement, workers should be careful to scrutinize these contracts and seek legal advice so that they understand the rights they are potentially giving up.
And of course, if a temp or leased worker is injured on the job, he or she should contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve their rights. Any delay could prejudice the worker’s ability to pursue a successful claim, whether that be a worker’s compensation claim or a third-party claim.