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Defining who is an employee

As most of those who employ people in Los Angeles likely know, state law requires that any company or party for whom more than one employee works is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect its workers. Yet how the state defines an employee may be the determining factor as to whether or not one who may employ someone informally (i.e., a landlord paying a person to handle the landscaping duties on his or her property, a parent paying a neighbor to babysit his or her kids multiple times in a week) is required to comply with this law.

Those employees whose employers do not carry workers compensation insurance may receive similar benefits through the state’s Uninsured Employer’s Benefit Trust Fund. Information shared by the state’s Department of Industrial Relations shows that for the 2014 fiscal year, 57 percent of those employees paid through this fund were classified simply as “laborers.” In the aforementioned employment scenarios, the compensated parties could potentially be viewed as a laborers. Yet how does state classify such a situation?

According to Section 3351(d) of the California Labor Code, any person employed by a homeowner performing any duties that are incident to the ownership of the dwelling are considered to be employees. This includes overseeing the care of children. However, the law goes on to state that the following employment scenarios are excluded from that definition:

  •          If the employee is a parent, spouse, or child of the homeowner
  •          If the employment lasted less than 52 hours
  •          If the wages paid for employment were less than $100

While people working in such situations cannot receive benefits through the UEBTF, they can pursue civil action against their employers. 

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