The South Carolina Court of Appeals recently affirmed a decision by the Workers’ Compensation Full Commission that clarified S.C. Code § 42.1.150, which set forth the four employee rule.
In Leggettee v. Duly, the employer argued the Full Commission incorrectly found the company had four or more employees. Leggette was injured when a co-worker dropped a “thumper” on his right hand, injuring his middle and index fingers. As a result, Leggette’s fingers were amputated at the first knuckle level.
On April 9, 2014, the Court of Appeals found the employer maintained four or more employees, which made it subject it to the Workers’ Compensation Act. In finding that the employer maintained four or more employees at the time of the accident, the Court relied on factors of regularity of occurrence, distinct employment, and hourly wages, rather than regularity of work days and hours. The Court noted the employer’s mode of operation was on a project-to-project schedule, in which four employees were paid consistent hourly wages at the end of each week after working on an assigned project. As such, the Court found the employer maintained four employees with some constancy during the relevant period.
Practice Pointer: An employer will not be excused from the Act merely because less than four employees are working on a certain project or at a given time. Payment of four or more employees on a consistent basis is enough to make the employer subject to the Act.