According to In These Times, the Texas House Business and Industry Committee (TBIC) is looking into ways to reform the construction industry in our state before the legislature reconvenes in 2015. Currently, employers have been abusing the hiring system by filing construction workers as independent contractors.
Why Do Employer’s Classify Workers as Independent Contractors?
In These Times says that once these workers are hired as independent contractors, businesses can have them sign a waiver that takes away their right to workers’ compensation if they are injured.
A person is an independent contractor if they are self-employed and can determine their own hours and schedule. Employers try to classify as many employees as independent contractors because then the employer is under no obligation to pay:
- minimum wage
- overtime pay
- workers’ comp
In These Times makes note of the fact that the misclassification of employee’s is referred to as payroll fraud and it is the most common type of wage theft in the U.S.
Texas is the only state that does not require businesses to carry workplace insurance. Unfortunately, this means that workers in the construction industry have no financial safety net if they are injured on the job.
Christian Hurtado, a construction worker, testified before the TBIC. Hurtado believes that Texas is the worst place to work construction, because not only has he experienced close calls with getting injured while on a jobsite, his father was killed while working construction in Austin. Moreover, the construction industry in Texas has the highest death rate in the country.
Hurtado told the committee that he supports tougher laws on misclassification and mandatory workers’ compensation.
The Law Offices of Aaron Allison – Austin Workers’ Compensation Attorney