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Workers’ Compensation Questions For Small Businesses


It stands to reason that most employers want to do right by their hard-working employees, and this often goes even more for small businesses, simply because everyone works so much more closely together than they do in large companies. However, the question of workers’ compensation can sometimes lead to issues, not least of all because the law surrounding this area of law can be very complex by layman’s standards. Doing your due diligence by investigating the law before any potential problems appear can save significant time and trouble.

Required For Most

While in some states, workers’ compensation is not required for small business, Florida law covers nearly all of them. Workers’ compensation insurance is required for any business in the construction industry that employs more than one person, and for any non-construction business that employs more than four. While there are various types of workers’ compensation, state law requires a non-exempt employer to carry enough to cover at least partial wage loss, as well as medical bills, in the event of a work-related injury. This is in exchange for the employee giving up their right to sue their employer in civil court (except in extremely rare circumstances).

It is possible to seek exemption from workers’ compensation law on an individual basis, but it cannot be done for one’s entire company, and it is against the law to force employees to exempt themselves or to refuse to hire those who do not. Individual exemptions can only be obtained by those who are officers of the corporation or who own at least 10 percent of the stock if the business is a limited liability company (LLC), and while you as the owner might be able to exempt yourself, you may not exempt your employees.

Classification Matters

One critical thing to remember is that classifying your employees appropriately can help you avoid significant legal problems. It is tempting for many small employers to classify their employees as independent contractors (when such “contractors” would not be entitled to receive workers’ compensation or other benefits), but to do so is actually illegal. Misclassifying an employee to avoid having to purchase workers’ compensation coverage may be the goal, but it also means that the employer would pay less payroll tax. In extreme cases this may lead to tax evasion charges, but even if criminal charges are avoided, problems may occur.

Misclassification may also come back to bite a small business owner in other ways. Perhaps the most common is that unlike an employee covered by workers’ compensation insurance, an exempt employee or an independent contractor is able to bring suit against an employer if they are injured while on the job. In such an instance, ordinary negligence rules would apply, and if the plaintiff prevails at trial, the resulting verdict may be far more than workers’ compensation would otherwise have delivered. A small business may not be able to absorb such a verdict – in extreme circumstances, it may drive your business to close.

Contact An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Attorney

While workers’ compensation law is complex, it is nonetheless necessary for most small businesses. Enlisting an attorney to help answer your questions can smooth out the process, however. The Orlando workers’ compensation attorneys at the Hornsby Law Group are well versed in this kind of case, and are happy to try and work with you on yours. Call us today to set up an appointment.


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