Workers’ Compensation in PA: Who Has Control Over the Work

October 11, 2017

By Thomas E. Panzer

There is no bright line rule to determine the existence of an employer-employee relationship under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act; however, the Pennsylvania Courts have created guidelines and have established certain factors to take into consideration in answering the question.

The primary factor in determining whether a particular individual is an employee and by whom the individual is employed, as it relates to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation matters, is the right to control either the work to be done or the manner in which the work is to be performed.

Consider the scenario where a personnel agency in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, places a nursing assistant at a client location, like a nursing home. The personnel agency may treat the nursing assistant as an independent contractor.  The nursing home may take the same position.  If the nursing assistant is injured while working at the nursing home, the nursing assistant may want to claim an employment relationship with either the agency or the nursing home.

The answer to the employer-employee question begins with asking who has the right to manage and control the manner in which the nursing assistant performs her work.  Where the nursing assistant is being managed and directed by the nursing home, the nursing home will have a difficult time disavowing an employer-employee relationship.  Same is especially true where the nursing assistant is performing work on the nursing home premises.

The answer becomes less clear when the work is not performed on the nursing home premises, and where the skilled nursing assistant is not being managed and controlled by the nursing home because she has the training, skill, and experience to perform the functions of her job without direction and control.  In those circumstances, the lack of employer-employee relationship is a stronger argument.

In addition to the above factors, there may also be written agreements between the parties.  The Pennsylvania Courts will consider a written agreement between the parties with differing weight depending on the position of the parties.  For instance, an independent contractor agreement between the nursing assistant and the personnel agency may be considered a factor in deciding whether the nursing assistant is an employee or an independent contractor, but a court will not be bound by that agreement in deciding the nature of the relationship.

The determination of any employment relationship for purposes of workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania is determined on a case by case basis. It is important to engage the services of a workers’ compensation lawyer in Pennsylvania to assist with that determination. To understand the factors in determining if someone is an employee or independent contractor, read: Differences Between Employees and Independent Contractors for Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and Independent Contract Doctrine Affirmed in Workers’ Compensation Case

High Swartz workers’ compensation attorneys have decades of experience handling both employees and employers in Pennsylvania. Our Bucks County and Montgomery County workers’ compensation attorneys have knowledge and experience in all facets of workers’ compensation issues.

If you are considering filing a claim, or if a claim has been filed against you, please contact Thomas E. Panzer at 215-345-8888 or Our attorneys in Bucks County and Montgomery County are here to assist you.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

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