Floridians lost 309 people as a result of workplace accidents and injuries in 2016. Up from the previous year, the number of accidents and fatalities in Florida is growing faster than anywhere else in the nation. The state outperforms the national average in falls, trips, slips, and exposure to harmful substances or environments.
You might think that you have a safe workplace. Many accidents are the result of some malpractice or negligence. Yet, sometimes accidents are just that – an accident. You need to be prepared for any eventuality to protect your business and employees. One state-mandated form of protection is workers compensation insurance.
Florida’s workers comp requirements are some of the most stringent in the nation. Do you know your obligations? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to comply with the law.
Who Needs Workers Comp Insurance?
The short answer is almost everyone. Workers comp requirements vary first by industry and second by size. Here’s how Florida’s legislation breaks down businesses:
Construction industry businesses require workers comp insurance at all times. The official law requires after hiring one or more employees. However, the company owner and corporate officers count as employees.
Are you a contractor required to hold workers comp? Rule 69L-6.032 of the Florida Administrative Code says it’s up contractors to ensure all sub-contractors also carry the required insurance before beginning work.
If the sub-contractor doesn’t have the appropriate insurance and is allowed to begin work, the state recognizes the subcontractor’s employees as that of the contractors. Your business pays benefits for work-related accidents, injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.
Every construction business needs workers’ comp, including hired companies working for you.
Agriculture businesses must take out workers comp benefits when they have a minimum of six employees and/or twelve seasonal employees. Seasonal employees count as those who work at least 30 days during a season but don’t work more than 45 days per year.
All Other Businesses
Non-construction industry employees need benefits once the company reaches four employees. Business owners and LLC members also count.
Do you run a business outside the construction industry that isn’t an LLC? The rules differ for sole proprietors or partnerships. While business owners count as an employee in an LLC, they don’t count in a sole proprietorship or partnership. It’s possible to add yourself to the insurance roster. However, a one-man business doesn’t require workers comp as long as you’re not working in or around the construction industry.
Remember, the contractor rule mentioned above applies to all businesses. If your subcontractor doesn’t have insurance for its employees, then those employees fall under the purview of your policy.
When Do You Need Insurance?
You need insurance as soon as you meet the requirements set out in Florida’s labor rules.
Don’t wait to buy a policy. Reporting suspected non-compliance is simple: it requires an online form found here. A report initiates an investigation by the Florida Chief Financial Officer. Referrals are anonymous. If you’re reported or you wish to file a report, the state withholds the name and contact details of the referee.
Is Anyone Exempt from Workers Comp Laws?
Some businesses may file for an exemption from workers comp laws in Florida. Both construction and non-construction industries may file.
An exemption isn’t a complete exemption. It excludes a member of an LLC or corporate officer from workers’ compensation law. Once the state approves the exemption, the member rejects their employee rights and right to workers’ comp.
Is an exemption right for you? You can read more about Florida’s exemption program here.
Where Can I Buy Workers Comp Insurance?
Some businesses find they are ineligible for coverage in the standard market. If you find this is the case, the state of Florida steps in. The Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association may be able to help. Unfortunately, the organization’s rates are typically 143% higher than on the regular market, require large down payments to bind and typically take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to underwrite and receive a quote. This, along with many other reasons is why a lot of companies prefer to secure policies thru the PEO market. PEO Quotes can typically be issued within 24 – 72 hours but if you are in need of a policy immediately and qualify, a PEO broker can issue a quote with some basic information from you on a phone call.
If you run a small business (larger than most), you may be able to qualify as self-insured. Qualifying means demonstrating your ability to pay current and future claims. You’ll need enough cash to prove your eligibility, you must first check with the Division of Workers’ Compensation in Florida.
What Are Florida’s Workers Comp Requirements for Injuries?
Workers’ compensation is mandatory unless you receive an exemption. In addition to mandating coverage, Florida rules mandate what it will and won’t cover.
Florida law covers “all accidental injuries and occupational diseases” that occur during and as a result of employment at your company. The law also includes deaths that occur within a specific period.
Some injuries are famously left uncovered. As in all other states, Florida never and continues not to compensate for “pain and suffering.”
Additionally, the law doesn’t cover any work-related condition that causes one employee to “have a fear or dislike” for another employee as a result of the individual’s religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, or handicap.
Do You Understand Florida’s Workers Comp Requirements?
Florida boasts business-friendly laws that mandate workers comp without hurting small business. Although it’s not mandatory for all organizations, workers comp is a good idea whenever you hire an employee. Although it’s an added expense, it prevents an employee injury from bankrupting you.
Do Florida’s workers comp requirements mandate that you buy workers comp insurance? Click here to receive a free quote for a policy that’s rights for you and your business.