What is an "employee" in Georgia? According to the Workers' Compensation law, an "employee" is defined as "every person in the service of another under any contract of hire or apprenticeship, written or implied, except a person whose employment is not in the usual course of the trade, business, occupation, or profession of the employer."
So what does that mean? It's often confusing. For instance, farm workers, while a "person in service of another," are not covered by workers' compensation in Georgia. The same is true with an independent contractor, though a question always persists regarding whether a person is actually an employee being misclassified by their employer as an independent contractor. More on that in a moment.
Generally speaking, most workers in Georgia are employees covered by our Workers' Compensation Act. In fact, we recommend speaking to a Georgia Workers' Compensation attorney before making a determination. We often find that folks who contact us with questions on whether they are an "employee" for purposes of workers' comp coverage are, in fact, employees!
So what about Independent Contractors, anyway? Employers have, in recent years, taken to classifying workers as "independent contractors" for a variety of reasons. That doesn't mean, however, that every worker who is called an independent contractor is really just that. In fact, it's quite often the opposite. The law in Georgia does not specifically say what independent contractors are really employees for purposes of workers' comp, but we do have some cases that provide guidance. Each case is very fact specific, but, generally speaking, courts in Georgia are going to look at who controls the time, method, and manner of the work being performed. If the answers points to the employer, the injured worker is most likely going to be treated as an employee and be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. We find truck drivers and "gig" workers - rideshare drivers (Uber and Lyft, for example), food delivery personnel (think Zifty, InstaCart, GrubHub), personal errand runners (PostMates) - often are classified as independent contractors. This can get complicated; it's best to reach out to a qualified Georgia workers' comp lawyer who can provide guidance.
We are here for any questions about this or any other workers' compensation matter 24/7. We have offices in Atlanta and Athens and continue to meet with clients remotely.