It’s a fairly common practice across the United States—in an effort to reduce costs, many employers hire either undocumented aliens or offer to pay workers “off the books,” usually paying less than prevailing wage. The worker benefits by not having to claim the income for tax purposes. But what happens when a worker who is not on the company payroll suffers a work-related injury? If you are paid “off the books,” are you ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
Fortunately, the answer is no—an employer cannot avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits by paying an employee in cash or otherwise outside of payroll. You can receive workers’ compensation benefits in New Jersey regardless of your status as an employee, as New Jersey has only two requirements to qualify for workers’ compensation: you must have been injure and you must have been working for the company at the time of the injury (a true independent contractor may not pursue workers’ compensation payments).
If you were truly an independent contractor, you may be denied workers’ compensation benefits. However, more often than not, workers paid off the books qualify as employees, even when there’s a written agreement setting forth the terms of the independent contract. The workers’ compensation judge will look at the actual relationship. If the employer dictates schedules, assignments, provides equipment or exercises significant control over the worker on a day-to-day basis, the relationship will likely be construed as an employment relationship.
At the Cintron Firm, LLC, we offer more than 14 years of experience to people in New Jersey facing a broad array of legal challenges. Attorney Mark Cintron has worked as a prosecutor and has extensive courtroom experience, so he’s always ready, willing and able to protect your interests before a judge or jury. Contact our office online or call us at 201-791-1333 or 917-494-5695 to set up an appointment.