Workers’ Compensation: The Definition of a Worker
When people think of workers compensation, they often think of difficult jobs like mining, construction, or another job that carries the highest amount of risk for the people who work there. While every job contains some amount of risk, there are other jobs where location, equipment, and the work being done can increase the risk of employee injury.
Workers compensation is employee compensation for medical benefits, wage replacement, and other potential compensation if they are injured on the job. By accepting workers compensation benefits, employees agree to not sue their employers for negligence in case of an accident or injury, except in some cases where employees are able to see outside of the workers compensation system. Workers compensation policies can be customized to meet the unique needs of a particular business.
What is a Worker?
The definition of a worker is one employed by another according to mutually agreed upon terms of service. Workers perform tasks for an employer for a predetermined amount of time in exchange for wages and benefits.
Each state varies on its definition of a worker and who is compensated under that state’s workers compensation laws and policies. For instance, in some states, volunteer firefighters will be covered under a workers’ compensation policy, but other volunteers on other job sites likely won’t be.
Freelance employees, gig workers, or independent contractors are still workers, but likely aren’t going to be considered workers under a workers compensation policy. Independent contractors might work from home or on a short-term basis, so their risk of being injured on the job is different than an employee who spends 40 hours or more a week on a specific employer-owned work site.
Of course, any time an employee is working with an organization, they should check the workers compensation insurance policy to see if they are covered.
Workers compensation policies vary from state to state, so laws will be different depending on where employers and employees are located. In some states, companies with one or more employees are required to have a workers’ compensation policy; in other states, a company must have between two and five employees in order to offer a workers’ compensation policy to their staff.
There are exceptions to the workers compensation rule; for instance, some charities can opt out, and there are varying degrees of workers compensation protection for individuals working in the construction or agricultural industries.
Depending on location, workers’ compensation is state funded or privately funded. Individuals working for the federal government have their own workers’ compensation system to work in.
To qualify for workers’ compensation, an individual must:
- Be an employee
- Have an employer who has a workers’ compensation insurance policy
- Have a work-related illness or injury
- Meet the state deadline for reporting an injury or illness and filing a claim with workers’ compensation.
Employees who might not be covered under a workers’ compensation insurance can include domestic workers, agricultural and farm workers, seasonal employees, and individuals working on a temporary basis. Of course, employers should always check their state regulations for workers’ compensation insurance to make sure their employees are covered where needed.
Additionally, if a worker is self-employed, they won’t be automatically covered under a workers’ compensation policy unless they purchase one for themselves. Self-employed individuals working in a hazardous industry could benefit from having a workers compensation policy to protect them in case they are injured during the standard course of their job.
Employees should always check their employers’ workers compensation situation, even if they are working on a short-term or freelance basis.
Smaller insurance companies will be the most likely to offer workers compensation policies to individuals, whether they are sole proprietors, freelancers, or independent contractors.
Finding out if you need workers compensation for your employees can seem complicated, but the experts at Demont Insurance can help answer any questions employees or employers might have about coverage.
To learn more about workers compensation, contact the professionals at Demontinsurance.com at (850) 942-7760. Our licensed insurance experts will be happy to answer any questions you have.