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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XXI LABOR AND INDUSTRIES
  • CHAPTER 152 WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
  • Section 1 Definitions

Section 1. The following words as used in this chapter shall, unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context or specifically prescribed, have the following meanings:

(1) “Average weekly wages”, the earnings of the injured employee during the period of twelve calendar months immediately preceding the date of injury, divided by fifty-two; but if the injured employee lost more than two weeks’ time during such period, the earnings for the remainder of such twelve calendar months shall be divided by the number of weeks remaining after the time so lost has been deducted. Where, by reason of the shortness of the time during which the employee has been in the employment of his employer or the nature or terms of the employment, it is impracticable to compute the average weekly wages, as above defined, regard may be had to the average weekly amount which, during the twelve months previous to the injury, was being earned by a person in the same grade employed at the same work by the same employer, or, if there is no person so employed, by a person in the same grade employed in the same class of employment and in the same district. In case the injured employee is employed in the concurrent service of more than one insured employer or self-insurer, his total earnings from the several insured employers and self-insurers shall be considered in determining his average weekly wages. Weeks in which the employee received less than five dollars in wages shall be considered time lost and shall be excluded in determining the average weekly wages; provided, however, that this exclusion shall not apply to employees whose normal working hours in the service of the employer are less than fifteen hours each week.

Except as provided by sections twenty-six and twenty-seven of chapter one hundred forty-nine, such fringe benefits as health insurance plans, pensions, child care, or education and training programs provided by employers shall not be included in employee earnings for the purpose of calculating average weekly wages under this section.

(1A) “Commissioner”, the director of the department of industrial accidents established under chapter twenty-three E.

(2) “Department”, the department of industrial accidents.

(3) “Dependents”, members of the employee’s family or next of kin who were wholly or partly dependent upon the earnings of the employee for support at the time of the injury or at the time of his death.

(4) “Employee”, every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written, excepting (a) masters of and seamen on vessels engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, (b) persons employed to participate in organized professional athletics, while so employed, if their contracts of hire provide for the payment of wages during the period of any disability resulting from such employment, (c) a salesperson affiliated with a real estate broker pursuant to an agreement which specifically provides for compensation only in the form of commissions earned from the sale or rental of real property, (d) a salesperson who is a direct seller of consumer products on a buy-sell or deposit-commission basis other than in a retail establishment, all of whose remuneration is directly related to sales rather than amount of time worked and whose services are performed pursuant to a written contract providing that the direct seller will not be treated as an employee for Federal tax purposes, (e) a person who operates a taxicab vehicle which is leased by such person from a taxicab company pursuant to an independent contract which specifically provides for a rental fee or other payment to the owner of such taxicab vehicle which is in no way related to the taxicab fares collected by such person; and provided, further, that such person is not treated as an employee for Federal tax purposes, (f) persons employed by an employer engaged in interstate or foreign commerce but only so far as the laws of the United States provide for compensation or liability for their injury or death, and (g) a person whose employment is not in the usual course of the trade, business, profession or occupation of his employer, but not excepting a person conclusively presumed to be an employee under section twenty-six.

Notwithstanding the provisions of section one hundred of chapter forty-one, any reserve or special police officer who is employed by a contractor for the purpose of directing or maintaining traffic or other similar purposes upon any way which is being constructed or reconstructed or upon which other types of construction projects are in progress under contract with the state department of highways or the metropolitan district commission or any city or town, and who is paid directly for such services by a contractor engaged in the performance of such a contract with said department or commission or city or town, shall be conclusively presumed to be an employee of such contractor while so employed and paid; and, notwithstanding any contrary provision of law, the compensation provided by this chapter shall be paid to any such police officer who receives an injury arising out of and in the course of such employment, or, in case of death resulting from such injury, to the persons entitled thereto.

Students participating in a work-based experience as part of a school-to-work program who receive personal injuries arising out of and in the course of such participation at or with particular employers, shall, for purposes of this chapter, be deemed employees of such employers. For the purposes of this paragraph, “school to work program” shall mean workplace based education and training programs designed to improve the knowledge and skills of high school students by integrating academic and occupational learning to prepare students for gainful employment and increase their opportunities for post secondary education.

The provisions of this chapter shall remain elective as to employers of seasonal or casual or part-time domestic servants. For the purpose of this paragraph, a part-time domestic servant is one who works in the employ of the employer less than sixteen hours per week.

This chapter shall be elective for an officer or director of a corporation who owns at least 25 per cent of the issued and outstanding stock of the corporation. Notwithstanding section 46, these provisions shall apply only if the corporate officer provides the commissioner of industrial accidents with a written waiver of his rights under this chapter. Said commissioner shall promulgate regulations to carry out the purpose of this paragraph. Violations of this paragraph shall subject the corporation to the penalties set forth in section 25C.

For the purpose of this chapter, a sole proprietor at his option or a partnership at its option shall be an employee. A sole proprietor or partnership may elect coverage by securing insurance with a carrier.

Any reference to an employee who has been injured shall, when the employee is dead, also include his legal representatives, dependents and other persons to whom compensation may be payable.

(5) “Employer”, an individual, partnership, association, corporation or other legal entity, or any two or more of the foregoing engaged in a joint enterprise, and including the legal representatives of a deceased employer, or the receiver or trustee of an individual, partnership, association, corporation or other legal entity, employing employees subject to this chapter; provided, however, that the owner of a dwelling house having not more than three apartments and who resides therein, or the occupant of a dwelling house of another who employs persons to do maintenance, construction or repair work on such dwelling house or on the grounds or buildings appurtenant thereto shall not because of such employment be deemed to be an employer. The word “employer” shall include both the general employer and the special employer in any case where both relationships exist with respect to an employee. The word “employer” shall not include nonprofit entities, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, that are exclusively staffed by volunteers.

A corporation and its subsidiary corporations shall be considered as one entity for the purposes of a self-insurance license; provided, however, that such corporation has signed as guarantor to insure payment of claims by its subsidiary corporations.

(6) “Insured” or “insured persons”, an employer who has provided by insurance for the payment to his employees by an insurer of the compensation provided for by this chapter, or is a self-insurer under subparagraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (2) of section twenty-five A, or is a member of workers’ compensation self-insurance group established pursuant to section twenty-five E to twenty-five U, inclusive.

(7) “Insurer”, any insurance company, reciprocal, or interinsurance exchange, authorized so to do, which has contracted with an employer to pay the compensation provided for by this chapter. The term “insurer” within this definition shall include, wherever applicable, a self-insurer, the commonwealth and any county, city, town, or district which has accepted the provisions of section sixty-nine of this chapter. The term “insurer” as used in this chapter, except where used to refer to regulation of insurance companies by the division of insurance, and except where used in sections sixty-five A and sixty-five C, shall include where applicable a workers’ compensation self-insurance group established pursuant to the provisions of sections twenty-five E to twenty-five U, inclusive.

(7A) “Personal injury” includes infectious or contagious diseases if the nature of the employment is such that the hazard of contracting such diseases by an employee is inherent in the employment. “Personal injury” shall not include any injury resulting from an employee’s purely voluntary participation in any recreational activity, including but not limited to athletic events, parties, and picnics, even though the employer pays some or all of the cost thereof. Personal injuries shall include mental or emotional disabilities only where the predominant contributing cause of such disability is an event or series of events occurring within any employment. If a compensable injury or disease combines with a pre-existing condition, which resulted from an injury or disease not compensable under this chapter, to cause or prolong disability or a need for treatment, the resultant condition shall be compensable only to the extent such compensable injury or disease remains a major but not necessarily predominant cause of disability or need for treatment. No mental or emotional disability arising principally out of a bona fide, personnel action including a transfer, promotion, demotion, or termination except such action which is the intentional infliction of emotional harm shall be deemed to be a personal injury within the meaning of this chapter.

(8) “Reviewing board”, any three member panel of the reviewing board established under section five of chapter twenty-three E.

(9) “Average weekly wage in the commonwealth”, for dates subsequent to October fourth, nineteen hundred and seventy, the average weekly wage as determined according to the provisions of subsection (a) of section twenty-nine of chapter one hundred and fifty-one A and promulgated by the deputy director of the division of employment and training, on or before October first of each year. For dates prior to October fourth, nineteen hundred and seventy, the state average weekly wage for all employees covered under the employment security law as calculated by said deputy director of the division of employment and training during the year of such date.

(10) “Maximum weekly compensation rate”, one hundred per cent of the average weekly wage in the commonwealth according to the calculation on or next prior to the date of injury by the deputy director of the division of employment and training.

(11) “Minimum weekly compensation rate”, twenty per cent of the average weekly wage in the commonwealth according to the calculation on or next prior to the date of injury by the deputy director of the division of employment and training.

(12) “Vocational rehabilitation”, nonmedical services reasonably necessary at a reasonable cost to restore a disabled employee to suitable employment as near as possible to pre-injury earnings. Such services may include vocational evaluation, counseling, education, workplace modification, and retraining, including on-the-job training for alternative employment with the same employer, and job placement assistance. It shall also mean reasonably necessary related expenses.

The department shall promulgate rules concerning the qualifications and performance of any person, agency or institution providing vocational rehabilitation services pursuant to this chapter. The commissioner may remove or suspend a vocational rehabilitation provider from the list of certified providers, or suspend payment to a vocational rehabilitation service provider for cause. Any such provider shall have the right to appeal to the commissioner any such removal or suspension within fourteen days of such provider’s receipt of notice of removal or suspension. Upon receipt of such appeal, the commissioner shall refer the matter to the division of administrative law appeals within the executive office of administration and finance which shall have the authority to reverse, uphold or modify the removal or suspension after a hearing held pursuant to chapter thirty A. Any party aggrieved by said hearing shall have the right to appeal as set forth in said chapter thirty A.