The workers compensation system was designed to provide benefits to those employees who are injured in the course of employment. However, not all "employments" are considered to be within the contemplation of the system. By way of contrast, consider the factory worker who cuts his hand while working on an assembly line making car parts for the employer and the teenage boy who cuts his hand trimming hedges for his neighbor. Both the factory worker and the teenage boy were "employed" to perform a service for another. However, workers compensation would only be applicable to the factory worker's injury. Other examples where resulting injuries would likely not qualify for workers compensation, even though the individuals were paid for their services, include a housecleaner hired to perform a one-time spring-cleaning on your home, a babysitter who cares for a young child on a weekend evening, and a mechanic friend who helps to fix a broken vehicle.
The underlying theory for the exclusion of these "employments" from workers' compensation is that they are casual and not undertaken as part of the customary or regular business of the employer. "Business" is not to be given a broad reading; rather, the "business" referred to is that occupation engaged in by the employer that generally constitutes his livelihood. With respect to determining whether the employment is "casual," courts have taken varied approaches usually centering on the duration or extent of the employment.
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