An Act To Reduce Administrative Burdens of Forest Products Harvesters
Sec. 1. 39-A MRSA §401, sub-§4, as amended by PL 2011, c. 643, §12 and affected by §14, is further amended to read:
If a landowner applies for and receives a predetermination under section 105 of the independent status of a contractor that harvests forest products and requests and receives a certificate of independent status certifying that the contractor harvests in a manner that would not make the contractor an employee of the landowner, that certificate of independent status remains valid unless the manner in which the contractor harvests changes. A landowner is not liable for compensation if at the time the landowner enters into the contract with the contractor, the landowner applies for and receives a predetermination of the independent status of the contractor as set forth in section 105, the landowner requests and receives a certificate of independent status, issued by the board on an annual basis to a contractor, certifying that the contractor harvests forest products in a manner that would not make the contractor an employee of the landowner or the landowner requests and receives a certificate of insurance, issued by the contractor's insurance carrier, certifying that the contractor has obtained the required coverage and indicating the effective dates of the policy, and if the landowner requests and receives at least annually similar certificates indicating continuing coverage during the performance of the work. A landowner who receives a predetermination of the contractor's status as independent contractor or a certificate of independent status is only relieved of liability under this paragraph only if the contract for wood harvesting expressly states that the independent contractor will not hire any employees to assist in the wood harvesting without first providing the required certificate of insurance to the landowner.
Notwithstanding section 105, subsection 1, paragraph A, a predetermination under section 105 related only to a person engaged in harvesting forest products is a conclusive presumption that the determination is correct and section 105, subsection 2 does not apply to that determination. Each party involved in or affected by the predetermination must be provided information on the workers' compensation laws and the effect of independent contractor status in relation to those laws. A predetermination under section 105 related to a person engaged in harvesting forest products is effective for one calendar year or the duration of the contract, whichever is shorter.
A landowner required to pay compensation under this section is entitled to be indemnified by the contractor and may recover the amount paid in an action against that contractor. A landowner may demand that the contractor enter into a written agreement to reimburse the landowner for any loss incurred under this section due to a claim filed for compensation and other benefits. The employee is not entitled to recover at common law against the landowner for any damages arising from such injury if the employee takes compensation from that landowner.
Landowners willfully acting to circumvent the provisions of this section by using coercion, intimidation, deceit or other means to encourage persons who would otherwise be considered employees within the meaning of this Act to pose as contractors for the purpose of evading this section are liable subject to the provisions of section 324, subsection 3. Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit an employee from becoming a contractor subject to the provisions of section 102, subsection 13-A.
This bill provides that, when the Workers' Compensation Board issues a certificate of independent status certifying that a contractor that harvests forest products does so in a manner that would not make the contractor an employee of a landowner, that certificate of independent status remains valid unless the manner in which the contractor harvests changes.