New Walmart package-delivery program could lead to employees being denied workers’ compensation benefits in Michigan.
The Washington Post has published an interesting article about Walmart employees delivering packages on their way home from work. This solves the so called last-mile problem, which is the most expensive part of the order fulfillment process.
Details are vague but it is currently on a volunteer basis. Employees use an app-based system to sign-up and set parameters for deliveries. It appears to be an extension of traditional employment into the gig economy.
Labor experts have criticized the program because it appears to shift costs associated with risks of delivery to employees. These include gas, automobile depreciation, parking expenses, tickets, insurance, and accidents.
We took a special interest in this article because of the unique challenges that workers’ compensation presents. Michigan law does not generally cover injuries that occur going to and coming from work. Some recognized exceptions include special missions for the employer and when transportation costs are paid.
Michigan courts have struggled to apply the general rule and its exceptions. The line between work and personal travel gets blurry fast. What happens if a driver gets hurt immediately following a completed delivery? What about additional dangers that would not have been present on a normal ride home from work? Are drivers considered independent contractors once they punch out from work?
Workers’ compensation is designed to cover medical expenses and lost wages for people hurt on-the-job. It is an important safety net and must be extended in the new gig economy.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by lorenz.markus97.