Workers’ compensation insurance is a crucial safety net for employees in California, providing financial protection in case of work-related injuries or illnesses.
However, not all individuals and businesses are required to carry this insurance.
In this article, we will explore who is exempt from workers’ compensation insurance California and the conditions that apply to these exemptions.
Who Is Exempt From Workers’ Compensation Insurance California?
In California, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to their employees in case of work-related injuries or illnesses.
However, there are certain exemptions and exceptions to this requirement. Here are some categories of individuals or situations that may be exempt from workers’ compensation insurance in California:
Sole Proprietors and Partnerships:
Sole proprietors and partners in partnerships are not required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for themselves.
This exemption recognizes the distinct legal structure of these business entities. In a sole proprietorship, the business and the owner are considered one and the same, and partnerships often have a similar structure.
Because there is no employer-employee relationship, they are not mandated to provide coverage for themselves. However, these individuals have the option to include themselves in the coverage if they choose to do so for their own protection, but it’s not mandatory.
Corporate Officers and LLC Members:
Corporate officers and members of LLCs have more flexibility when it comes to workers’ compensation coverage.
They can choose to exclude themselves from coverage if certain conditions are met. To be eligible for this exemption, they must typically own at least 15% of the company’s stock or membership interests.
This exemption recognizes that some business owners, particularly those with significant ownership stakes and control in the company, may not wish to include themselves in the workers’ compensation coverage and prefer to handle potential injuries or illnesses differently.
However, it’s essential for those who choose this exemption to sign a waiver of coverage to formalize their decision.
Domestic workers, such as nannies, housekeepers, and gardeners, are often exempt from workers’ compensation coverage in California.
This exemption acknowledges that many of these individuals work in private homes and are not part of the traditional employer-employee relationship.
However, an exception exists when an employer has more than one domestic worker working 36 or more hours per week. In this case, workers’ compensation coverage may be required to protect the employees in case of injuries or illnesses.
Certain Real Estate Agents and Brokers:
Real estate agents and brokers working as independent contractors may not fall under the umbrella of workers’ compensation insurance in California.
However, determining their employment status can be complex. Various factors, such as the degree of control the hiring entity has over their work, the nature of their contractual agreement, and the extent of their independence, may come into play.
Whether they are classified as employees or independent contractors can affect their eligibility for workers’ compensation coverage.
Volunteers who offer their services to nonprofit organizations or other entities are typically not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
This exemption acknowledges the voluntary nature of their work. Since volunteers typically do not receive compensation for their services, they are not considered employees, and therefore, workers’ compensation coverage is not required for them.
Federal government employees in California are exempt from the state’s workers’ compensation requirements.
Instead, they fall under the jurisdiction of the federal workers’ compensation system.
This system provides benefits and coverage for federal employees in case of work-related injuries or illnesses, ensuring consistent protection for federal workers across the country.
Some Agricultural Workers:
Certain agricultural workers may be exempt from workers’ compensation coverage in California. This exemption often applies to employees of small farms with fewer than six regular employees or those engaged in specific agricultural operations.
The rationale behind this exemption is to reduce the regulatory burden on smaller agricultural enterprises while still maintaining workers’ compensation protections for larger agricultural operations.
Exempt Corporate Officers:
While some corporate officers may choose to exclude themselves from workers’ compensation coverage, not all officers are eligible for this exemption.
To qualify, corporate officers must meet specific ownership and control criteria outlined by the California Department of Insurance.
These criteria may include owning a significant percentage of the company’s stock and actively participating in the management of the business. Corporate officers who meet these conditions can choose to waive coverage for themselves.
Licensed Real Estate Salespersons:
Licensed real estate salespersons in California may be exempt from workers’ compensation coverage if they meet certain requirements.
To qualify for this exemption, they must operate under the supervision and control of a licensed broker and have a written agreement indicating their status as an independent contractor rather than an employee.
This exemption recognizes the unique nature of their work within the real estate industry.
Casual laborers, often hired on a sporadic or irregular basis for tasks like moving, yard work, or short-term construction projects, may not be required to have workers’ compensation coverage in certain circumstances.
If the laborer is not a regular employee and is hired for a brief, one-time job, the hiring entity may not be obligated to provide workers’ compensation insurance.
However, it’s essential for both the laborer and the hiring entity to understand their legal obligations and the specific conditions under which this exemption applies.
Workers’ compensation insurance is a vital safety net for employees in California, but not all individuals and businesses are required to carry it.
Exemptions exist for various categories, including sole proprietors, partnerships, certain corporate officers, domestic workers, and more.
These exemptions are based on the unique nature of each employment situation and aim to strike a balance between protecting workers and reducing the regulatory burden on certain businesses.
Understanding these exemptions is crucial for both employers and workers to ensure compliance with the law and make informed decisions about coverage.