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Who receives a workers’ compensation exemption?


While the majority of workers employed in the US. are required by law to have workers' compensation coverage, certain employees can elect for a workers' compensation exemption. Other employees are exempt from workers' compensation simply by the nature of their work. In either case, an exemption prevents an employee from receiving workers' compensation benefits.

Who qualifies for workers' compensation?

Before getting into individual requirements, there are two general requirements you have to meet in order to qualify for worker's compensation.

  • Your company must be required to have worker's compensation insurance
  • You must be an employee of that company (e.g. not a volunteer or an independent contractor)

Even if your employer says you're ineligible on these grounds, it doesn't mean you should give up on getting compensated if you're injured. Many employees are incorrectly classified as independent contractors, and it's rare for a company to actually be exempt from the requirement to provide workers' compensation insurance. You should always check with a lawyer if you've suffered a work injury.

But if you do meet these two requirements, the next step is to look at things on an individual basis. Certain types of employees are ineligible for workers' compensation.

Who qualifies for a workers' compensation exemption?

Workers' compensation laws vary from state to state, so the rules about the types of employees who can get a workers' compensation exemption also differ. That said, there's still some commonalities in who's considered exempt. Typical examples of exempt employees include:

  • Officers or directors of corporations registered with a state
  • Construction industry officers who own more than 10 percent of the corporate stock
  • Sole proprietors
  • Casual employees who work at irregular intervals
  • Household domestic service employees
  • Employees of family members dwelling in the same household
  • Real estate brokers and salespeople working solely on commission
  • Employees covered under Federal Workers' Compensation Laws

Your state's labor department will usually provide a full list of exempt employees in your state.

How do you receive a workers' compensation exemption?

Anyone trying to obtain a workers' compensation exemption must go through their state's screening process. In most cases, this involves filling out a form that asks for information on the employee and the company. The state typically requires proof of up-to-date business licenses, proof of ownership, and contact information on the company's workers' compensation insurance carrier. The form and required documents are then filed with the nearest workers' compensation district office.

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