When we look at Missouri law on workers’ comp, which we are about to do, you see that like some other states we’ve looked at in the past few days, loyal readers, Missouri has a cutoff when it comes to which employers need workers’ comp coverage. For Missouri employers, that cutoff is five employees. If bosses have that number of employees or more, then they must purchase the injury insurance.
And like many of the other states, there are some “buts” to this equation. Partners of a business or sole proprietors (people who own and operate their own business by themselves) have the choice to get workers’ comp for themselves. Whereas owners of construction companies that erect, alter, destroy, or repair improvements to structures must have workers’ comp coverage if they have just one employee.
These laws have been around for some time in Missouri. The first workers’ comp law in the state was written and enacted in 1925 and kicked into effect in 1926. Before that, if an employee got injured in Missouri, all they could do was take their employer to court and sue them for medical treatment and lost wages. And in that case, the only way the employee could win is if they could prove that their employer had been negligent in some way.
Surprisingly, history shows us that in Missouri, workers with serious injuries back in these days actually won many of these cases, making the system challenging for the company owners. On the other hand, if a worker had a minor injury back in the day, they tended to lose in these courts, making the process most difficult for them.
Today’s system is much different of course. Similar to other states we have looked at, Missouri has a no fault system, meaning even if the employee was doing something unsafe when they got hurt on the job, they still get compensation.
In Mississippi, the whole workers’ comp system as we know it today there started in 1948. Then, the state set up a Workers’ Compensation Law and a Workers’ Compensation Commission to make sure that the law was carried out. Basically, as in most states where a workers’ comp program was established, the intent was to provide benefits to people who were injured on the job.
The system that developed in Mississippi is a no fault workers’ comp system. We’ve seen such things elsewhere. The basic premise is that no matter how the workers’ injury or illness occurred, as long as it occurred at work, then the workers’ comp insurance must pick it up. And under the law, any employer that is mandated by the law to have the workers’ comp coverage must do so by buying the insurance from a carrier, or by getting permission to do the self-insurance thing.
As with most states, there is a unique way that Mississippi covers certain employees under its workers’ comp law, while other employees do not have to be covered by the protection. For instance, all employers with five or more employees that are considered regular workers at an establishment must have the workers’ comp protection. Whereas, if an employer has less than five employees, they can voluntarily provide the coverage to those employees, but they don’t have to.
There are also certain types of employees who don’t have to have coverage no matter what. Take domestic and farm workers, for instance. They don’t have to be covered, nor do employees of certain non profits organizations, charities, religious groups, and cultural groups. Federal employees are not covered by the Mississippi law, and those transportation and maritime employees covered by federal compensation law don’t have to be covered by Mississippi law either.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. In Minnesota, the workers’ comp law requires that every employer have workers’ comp in case one of their employees gets hurt or killed at work. Sounds familiar, right? That’s because this part of the Minnesota workers’ comp law is similar to many other states’ workers’ comp laws and regulations.
The Minnesota law, as with many of the previous state workers’ comp laws that we’ve looked at, allows for employees to also self-insure, which have learned means that the employers themselves act as their own insurance companies. They figure out how many workers’ comp claims they will have in a year, and then they set aside a certain amount of cash each year to cover those claims.
As with other laws that we’ve looked at, of course some business owners are exempt from the state’s definition of “employers.” For instance, if you are a sole proprietorship, meaning that you own and operate your own business, then you don’t have to have workers’ comp for yourself. Of if you are in a partnership in a business or farm operation where each and every employee is a partner or a spouse of a partner or a child of a partner, then they don’t have to be covered either.
Some employees are exempt from having to be on your workers’ comp policy, too, if you are a regular business. A so called casual employee is not required to have workers’ comp. A casual employee is someone who doesn’t work in the usual course of the business, and both you and the employee know their work is only on a one-time or very infrequent basis and not permanent and full time.
Household workers are also exempt from Minnesota’s workers’ comp laws. A household employee could be someone from a domestic worker, to a repairer, to a grounds keeper, to a maintenance worker, at any private household.
Michigan prides itself on its workers’ comp system. Unlike in some states with state based workers’ comp insurance companies, Michigan allows open competition in the free market to determine the rates that employers have to pay for their workers’ comp coverage. There are more than 220 insurance companies in the state, in fact, that can deliver workers’ comp insurance to employers in Michigan.
And that is a good thing for employers in Michigan, because practically all of you must have this coverage. The cut off in Michigan is three employees. As we talked about in previous blogs, most states determine which companies must have workers’ comp insurance by the number of employees they have. In Michigan’s case, employers must only have three or workers at any one time to qualify.
Yet another twist to the Michigan law is, though, that an employer can also qualify for needing workers’ comp if they have had, within the last year, a regularly employed worker for 35 hours or more per week for at least 13 weeks. Another particularity—all public employers must have workers’ comp. And even if you do not meet these qualifications, you can voluntarily buy workers’ comp at any time.
A major benefit of the Michigan system for employers is that through workers’ comp, their employees can no longer sue them for damages because of their on the job injury. The workers’ comp system is known as an exclusive remedy because of this for any lost wages and medical costs. So what could normally lead to a million dollar lawsuit—such as a worker losing a leg on the job, say—instead gets turned into the workers’ comp system and the claim is handled by the insurance company.
However, in Michigan, in many other states, if the employer purposefully hurts one of their employees, they don’t get any of this protection.
Employers in Massachusetts have particular responsibilities when it comes to following the workers’ comp law of the land. Like many of the states that we have looked at so far in this section of the blog, all employers in Massachusetts are required to have workers’ comp insurance for their employees, including themselves.
This includes any employee, no matter how many hours in the week they work. Some types of workers, of course, have exclusions that are particular to Massachusetts, but we’ve come to expect such particularities when dealing with each state’s workers’ comp system, right?
When it comes to domestic employees, for instance, they must work at least 16 hours per week before they have to have coverage for workers’ comp. Members of a limited liability company, or LLC, and their partners, or partnerships in general and sole proprietorship businesses of an unincorporated business do not have to have workers’ comp at all for themselves, though they can if they want to.
All of this information may just sound like a bunch of facts read off to you, but Massachusetts employers shouldn’t mess around with the law. If you need workers’ comp in the state of Massachusetts, then it would be important to consider it. Employers who get caught without it, who should have it, are issued a Stop Work Order by the state DIA Office of Investigations.
After that date, a $100 fine per day starts from the day that the Stop Work Order was assessed, and the fine builds up until your workers’ comp coverage begins and your fine is paid off. Plus, you as the employer without workers’ comp could face criminal issues, including up to a one year term in prison and up to $1500 in fines. You may also lose any public contracts that your business has.