Are You Exempt from Workers’ Compensation Coverage in Florida?
In Florida, most employers are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees’ work-related injuries and illnesses. However, some employees are exempt from workers’ compensation coverage.
Florida law requires any employer with four or more employees – both part-time and full-time – to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Note: There are special workers’ comp rules for employers in the construction and agriculture industries.
Workers’ Compensation Exemptions in Florida
In the construction industry, subcontractors must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have employees. If a subcontractor does not have workers’ comp coverage for their employees, those workers automatically become the employees of the contractor. In that case, the contractor is responsible for paying benefits to an injured employee of the subcontractor in the event of a work-related injury or illness.
Under Florida’s workers’ comp law, a business owner counts as an “employee” if they are a corporate officer or member of a Limited Liability Company (LLC). However, sole proprietors and partners of business partnerships are not considered “employees” under the law.
You may be exempt from workers’ compensation if your employer has fewer than four employees. However, if there are at least three other employees working with you, you are entitled to benefits unless your employer opted out of workers’ compensation insurance.
Employers Can Exempt Certain Workers
Many employers in Florida take steps to exempt certain workers or job positions from workers’ comp coverage. Even if the company you work for employs four or more workers, you may be exempt from workers’ compensation if your employer has taken steps to exempt you from coverage.
While employers cannot exempt any employee, they can file an application to exempt certain workers or job positions from coverage. For example, a construction company can file an application to exempt independent contractors from workers’ compensation coverage.
However, if your employer has taken steps to exempt you from workers’ compensation, they are required to inform you that you are not covered by workers’ comp. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for employees to find out that they were exempt from coverage after sustaining an injury or developing a work-related illness.
Are Independent Contractors Exempt from Workers’ Compensation Coverage in Florida?
Since independent contractors are not considered employees, they are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Florida. A worker meets the definition of an independent contractor if they pass the “right to control” test. Under the Florida Statutes Section 440.02, the criteria for characterization of an independent contractor include but are not limited to:
- Whether the worker maintains their separate business
- Whether the worker is a part of the employer’s regular business
- The extent of control that the worker has over various aspects of their work
- Whether the worker is able to perform work for any entity besides the employer
- Whether the worker is allowed to work outside the normal scope of the employer’s typical operations
It is not uncommon for employers to misclassify their employees as independent contractors to cut costs, reduce payroll, and avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits. That is why it is important to speak with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer to determine whether you are exempt from coverage or not.