Workers’ compensation is a system of no-fault insurance that protects workers in Florida if they're injured on the job. Workers' compensation insurance provides coverage for medical expenses, disability benefits and compensation for lost wages when an employee gets injured at work.
The Florida Workers’ Compensation Law (WCL) prescribes eligibility requirements for workers' compensation benefits. The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), which is part of the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS), handles workers’ compensation claims and resolves any disputes over eligibility.
Employers have certain responsibilities that they must meet in order to comply with Florida’s workers’ compensation insurance laws. Let’s discuss these in detail now, and go over everything you need to know to ensure that you comply with Florida law.
Employers in Florida are required to purchase a workers’ compensation policy when they have four or more employees. This includes full-time workers, part-time workers, seasonal workers and temporary employees. There are two notable exceptions:
Most types of workers in Florida are covered under state law. In general, workers’ compensation coverage applies to all individuals (whether lawfully or unlawfully employed) working for pay or receiving compensation for their services, including:
However, workers’ compensation coverage does not extend to people like casual employees not working in the employer’s trade, business, profession or occupation; real estate agents paid solely on commission, etc.
With the exception of contractors in the construction business, your worker’s comp policy also does not have to include independent contractors – and we’ll discuss this in-depth in the next section.
Corporate officers and members of an LLC who own at least 10 percent of their business may choose to be exempt from work comp coverage, even if they work in the construction industry. But to make this election, corporate officers and members of an LLC must file a Notice of Election to be Exempt with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC).
Independent contractors hired for construction work must be covered under your company's Florida workers’ compensation policy.
However, other types of independent contractors (often called 1099 workers) generally do not need to be covered by workers’ compensation. There are a few requirements that a worker must meet in order to be considered an “independent contractor” rather than an employee.
Employers have the responsibility to classify employees properly. You cannot misclassify an employee as an independent contractor in order to avoid taxes or to reduce workers’ compensation costs. Doing so could incur fines of up to $5000 per instance. Learn more about proper worker classification.
To receive workers’ compensation benefits, an employee must sustain a compensable condition. A compensable condition is defined as harm or damage an employee sustains as the direct result of an accident or exposure to a hazardous environment in the normal course of his or her employment.
For example, if a carpenter cuts off part of his thumb with a band saw while working on the job site, this is a compensable injury. In general, an injury is compensable if at least 50 percent of its cause is related to an employment duty.
The severity of the injury must be determined by medical professionals with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, based on relevant medical findings. If an injury does occur, your employee will need to work closely with medical professionals for treatment and rehabilitation.
Subjective symptoms like pain alone aren't adequate to validate a compensable injury. Similarly, mental or nervous injuries caused by stress, fright or excitement are not compensable, unless they are accompanied by physical trauma.
If a licensed psychiatrist can establish the existence of mental or nervous injury by clear and convincing medical evidence, compensation is regulated by supplementary provisions of the WCL.
In some cases, there may be additional factors that prevent an employee from getting workers’ comp benefits in Florida, even if they have a compensable condition. For example, certain types of unsafe behavior, fraud or substance abuse (such as being intoxicated on the job) may disqualify eligible individuals from workers’ comp.
Injuries that occur outside of the job site or outside of an employee’s work duties also will not typically be covered by workers’ comp. For example, if an employee gets in a car crash and is injured on the way to work, this is not covered by workers’ compensation. This is because they were not performing their job duties at the time of the accident.
If you’re an employer in Florida and you’re required to have a workers’ compensation policy, there are a few specific requirements you must meet under Florida law:
First and foremost, qualifying companies in Florida must buy a workers’ compensation policy that covers their employees. You can buy an insurance policy from a private insurance company licensed to do business in Florida.
You also have the option to self-insure. Basically, this means that you have enough funds to cover the cost of a workers’ comp claim under Florida Law. You also have the option to join with one or more other companies to create a “group self-insurance fund.”
Finally, you have the option to purchase insurance coverage from the Florida Workers’ Compensation Joint Underwriting Association (FWCJUA). This is typically only necessary if private insurers refuse to insure your company due to your claims history.
You must maintain a set of records that can help the Department of Workers’ Comp in any necessary investigations. These records must be updated regularly and maintained for at least three years. The records you must keep include:
To comply with state law, Florida employers required to carry work comp must display a workers' compensation poster in conspicuous places in the workplace. These posters can be purchased online for a reasonable price.
Employers that are not required to carry work comp are also required to post a notice in the workplace that clearly states that they do not provide workers' compensation coverage or benefits.
An employer who knows about an employee's work-related injury or disease must report it to the insurance company within seven days. Failure to do so can result in a fine of $500 for each instance of refusal or failure to report an injury.
In addition, employers must also maintain records of any work-related injuries or illnesses employees report. Using a standardized set of forms and processes to report work-related injuries is very helpful to keep proper records.
Employers are primarily responsible for the company’s workers’ compensation compliance. But employees also have some responsibilities they must follow to stay in line with Florida workers’ compensation laws. Among other things, workers in Florida must:
Failing to satisfy these requirements may cause an individual to lose any benefits he or she is entitled to receive (in whole or in part). For more information on workers’ compensation laws in Florida, you can take a look at the following resources from WorkCompOne:
If you have four or more employees in Florida, you need to purchase a workers’ compensation policy and follow all of the requirements outlined above. Not sure how to get started? WorkCompOne can help.
With our online quoting tool, you can fill out a few quick forms and get a free quote for workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. It only takes a few minutes, and you can get coverage ASAP. Get started now, and make sure you get the coverage your business needs.
Got questions? We know that workers’ comp can be complicated. If you need more help, feel free to contact the WorkCompOne team. Our experts are always standing by to answer your questions and help you choose the right insurance policy for your business.