Are seasonal workers covered by workers’ compensation in SC?
If you were only hired at a department store to help with the holiday rush, or if you were hired at a beach store for the summer season, you are most likely covered by workers’ compensation if you are injured on the job.
There are some exemptions to workers’ compensation coverage, however, that may affect seasonal or temporary workers – below, we will discuss when seasonal workers are covered by workers’ compensation and the types of employment that are exempt from workers’ compensation coverage.
Are Seasonal Workers Covered by Workers’ Compensation in SC?
Across the state, department stores, restaurants, and other businesses hire extra staff to help them get through the holiday rush – many are hired in November and may be employed through Christmas or New Years’, but, come January, they are out of a job.
In Myrtle Beach and the surrounding area, beach stores, restaurants, and other businesses that rely on tourists hire summer help every year – they may be employed through the spring, summer, and part of the fall, but, when winter comes around and the tourists leave town, they are out of a job.
SC’s workers’ compensation laws make no exceptions for seasonal or temporary workers. Unless your employer is exempt for another reason (see below), they are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for on-the-job injuries.
Part-time, seasonal, or temporary employees in SC are entitled to the same protections as full-time, year-round employees, including workers’ compensation coverage unless your employer is exempt.
You are eligible for workers’ compensation coverage the first day on your job, regardless of how long your employment will last.
What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Available for Seasonal Workers in SC?
When a seasonal or temporary worker is injured on the job and during the scope of their employment, they are entitled to the same workers’ compensation benefits that are given to full-time, permanent employees:
- All reasonable medical expenses,
- Lost wages for workdays missed during their season or term of employment,
- Temporary total disability benefits if your injuries prevent you from returning to work while you recover,
- Permanent partial disability benefits if you are permanently impaired by your injury, or
- Permanent total disability benefits if your injuries permanently prevent you from being employed – for example, if you lose both of your hands, feet, arms, legs, or eyes.
If a seasonal employee does not ordinarily work in the off-season, they will not be entitled to benefits during that time. On the other hand, if a seasonal employee can show that they ordinarily find another job during the off-season, they may be entitled to disability benefits during the time when they would have been employed but for the injury.
Exemptions: What Types of Employees are Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Not every seasonal employee is covered by workers’ compensation in SC – there are exemptions, found in SC Code Section 42-1-360, that apply to all SC employers.
Whether they are seasonal or year-round, SC’s workers’ compensation laws do not apply to:
- “Casual” employees (see below),
- Any employer who has less than four employees in the same business within SC (full or part-time),
- Any employer whose annual payroll is less than $3000, regardless of how many employees they have,
- State and county fair associations,
- Agricultural employees,
- Anyone who is “engaged in selling any agricultural product for a producer of them on commission or for other compensation, paid by a producer, when the product is prepared for sale by the producer,”
- Real estate agents who work “for a licensed real estate broker on a straight commission basis and who [have] signed a valid independent contractor agreement with the broker,”
- Federal employees, and
- Independent contractors.
Note that many seasonal workers in SC are agricultural workers, and agricultural workers are specifically excluded from workers’ compensation coverage in SC, whether they are seasonal, temporary, part-time, full-time, or year-round employees.
What’s the Difference Between “Casual” and Seasonal?
“Casual” workers are also excluded from workers’ compensation coverage, but what does “casual” mean?
Casual does not mean seasonal or temporary. SC Code Section 42-1-130 defines the term “employee” for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage and excludes workers “whose employment is both casual and not in the course of the trade, business, profession, or occupation of his employer.”
- “Every person engaged in an employment under any appointment, contract of hire, or apprenticeship, expressed or implied, oral or written,”
- Undocumented workers (whether lawfully or unlawfully employed),
- Minors (whether lawfully or unlawfully employed),
- State and National Guard members,
- Volunteer state constables,
- Officers and employees of the State except those elected by the public or the legislature or appointed by the governor,
- Some officers and employees of municipal corporations and political subdivisions,
- Sole proprietors and partners of a business whose employees are covered, who actively participate in the operations of the business, and who elect to also cover themselves.
If a teenager in the neighborhood stops by the office and offers to cut the grass for a few bucks, they are a casual employee – their employment is “casual,” and they are not employed “in the course of the trade, business, profession, or occupation of [the] employer.”
On the other hand, if John applies for a seasonal position at Belk’s during the holiday season, he is “in the course of the trade, business, profession, or occupation of [the] employer,” even if his employment will only last a few weeks or months.
John is not a casual employee – he is a seasonal worker who is covered by workers’ compensation if he is injured on the job during the scope of his employment.
If you are a seasonal or temporary worker who has been injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.