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Does Washington State have workers’ comp exemption?

Workers laying down concrete.

What is workers’ comp exemption? 

Workers’ comp exemption is when businesses are not required to provide workers’ compensation insurance to specific partners or employees. Whether or not an employer has to offer workers’ comp coverage to all employees is based on the job title, business type, and state requirements.

When you’re an “exempt employee,” you’re not covered by insurance if injured on the job. Certain employees can be exempt from workers’ comp insurance requirements, so it’s essential to know the laws of your state and the industry you work in. 

However, a lawsuit could be brought against your employer, even though being without a policy doesn’t violate the law. All the injured party will needs is evidence that the employer is responsible for the damages. So, skimping on workers’ comp insurance may not be in an employer’s best interest. 

Washington State’s workers’ comp categories

Washington State has custom qualifications for employees to be exempt or covered by workers’ comp insurance in various categories. These categories include but are not limited to corporate officers, LLC members, out-of-state workers, maritime, drivers, independent contractors, volunteers, and freelancers. 

When determining exemption, substance is more significant than style when judging business coverage. Unless they adhere to specific exception criteria, all employees are protected by workers’ compensation insurance. (As they should be.) 

States that don’t require workers comp

Texas is the only state in the US that does not require private employers to carry workers’ comp insurance. And even though all other states require it, there are circumstances in which the coverage isn’t mandatory. 

Washington workers’ comp coverage guide

In short, every business in Washington State with employees is required to have coverage for workers’ compensation. But, as mentioned above, every state does have its exception to the rules. 

Employees that may be excluded from workers’ comp coverage:

  • Licensed electricians
  • Domestic housekeepers
  • Gardening and maintenance staff
  • Workers registered under the Registration of Contractors
  • Jockeys
  • Corporate officers
  • Sole proprietors and partners
  • Workers operating in exchange for aid/living essentials
  • Minors working in family agriculture
  • Newspaper delivery 

Washington State insurance policies 

Since Washington has a monopolistic state fund, there is no independent insurance market here. Under the state insurance policy, all employers are assured coverage, regardless of how dangerous the business. Businesses who do not carry the required workers’ compensation insurance may be subject to civil penalties of up to $50,000 in addition to a $250 daily fine.

Eligible family members can receive death benefits, including a one-time payment of the average state monthly wage and a monthly pension based on the deceased workers’ average monthly salary. The deceased’s family can receive a lump-sum payment of up to $10,000 for funeral expenses.

This is a subset of laws that deal with Law Enforcement and Firefighters’ benefits – not super on point for this blog because it doesn’t have anything to do with exemptions. I would suggest we remove this, but there could certainly be another blog that focuses on benefits and some of the carve-outs under the LEOFF laws for police and fire.

Finding the right workers’ compensation attorneys

If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a workplace injury, the workers’ compensation lawyers at Carlisle + Byers can help move the legal process along quickly, without added stress and hassle on your plate. We want to ensure you receive the benefits you need to heal quickly and return to your life as normal.