Is A Day Laborer a Casual Employee, Exempt From Workers’ Compensation?

This was the issue posited before the CRB in a recent holding, in which the CRB upheld the trial Commissioner’s determination that an employee who had been hired for one day, with no expectation of working any additional days, was an employee entitled to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The testimony at the underlying trial was a study of inconsistencies and contradictions. However, the Commissioner found that the claimant had been hired on the day of the accident by a third party, who was deemed to be an agent of the employer, to remove some low-lying brush. The claimant fell from a ladder, approximately 30 feet, sustaining injuries. The claimant testified that he did not know how much he was going to be paid per hour, or per day. Further, there was some evidence that the employer exerted some control over the claimant.

 

The respondent argued that pursuant to 31-275 (9) (B) (ii) an employee “shall not be construed to include…one whose employment is of a casual nature and who is employed otherwise than for the purposes of the employer’s trade or business.” The CRB held that in order for an employee to be exempt from coverage, the employer must establish that both prongs of this test are met: the claimant’s employment was not frequent or systematic and that it was not for the purposes of the respondent’s trade or business. In this case, the CRB agreed that the first prong was not met, to wit, the claimant’s employment was neither frequent nor systematic. However, the CRB noted that it was part of the employer’s trade to trim low-lying brush, and therefore, the exemption of casual employment did not apply.

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