A South Carolina employer might use a temporary employment agency to fill a position during an employee’s extended leave. An employer might also work with a temp agency to accomplish a major project. Staffing agencies can provide sensible solutions in various situations, but there can be some confusion when workers are affected by injuries on the job or work-related illnesses. For OSHA purposes, only one party should report injuries and illnesses.
In a recent letter of interpretation, the agency noted that those responsible for assigning daily tasks to temporary workers would be responsible for handling the reporting duties related to workplace injuries. However, this interpretation has received criticism by some of those affected due to the nature of the work arrangement and involvement of a temporary staffing company. In a case involving primary oversight by the staffing agency and direction of activities by a host employer, for example, the host employer is not involved to a significant degree with the short-term employees. However, the OSHA explanation suggests that the host employer in such a scenario bears responsibility for reporting accidents and illnesses tied to work activity.
A temp worker should clarify with a staffing agency to ensure that procedures for reporting workplace injuries are clearly understood. Workers’ compensation benefits are important for covering medical needs related to any accidents on the job, and a lack of certainty in procedures could impact an injured employee’s ability to move forward with medical activity.
There are many situations in which an agency might send a worker to a host employer. The source of one’s paycheck and other benefits might be a strong indicator of the responsible employer in a workers’ compensation claim. If a claim is not honored because of a dispute over the responsibility of an employer or other party, legal advice might be helpful for obtaining clear direction.